Kevin Lee (Dan Kuhl/Combat Press)

UFC Fight Night 128: The Importance of Kevin Lee’s Fight Against Edson Barboza

This weekend, the UFC returns to Atlantic City, N.J., for the first time in nearly four years. The promotion has put together quite an incredible card for UFC Fight Night 128 with yet another lightweight headliner at the top of the show.

That headliner features Edson Barboza, who returns to action after surviving through an unbelievable fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov in his last outing. The Brazilian welcomes Kevin Lee back into the Octagon finally after Lee’s loss to Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight title in October.

The card has some other awesome fights, too. Frankie Edgar’s rematch with Cub Swanson is certainly one of them. However, the headliner is worth the price of admission.


Barboza and Lee are both fighters who are coming off losses, yet they are headlining a show. This is not all that common. To find a similar scenario, you’d have to go all the way back to the UFC’s first event in Shanghai, China, where Michael Bisping and Kelvin Gastelum collided in the headliner. Even that was a case of a short-notice replacement fight for Gastelum, who was originally supposed to meet Anderson Silva.

However, there’s a bigger and more obvious reason why this headliner is so significant. We could see the birth of a superstar through this fight. It’s not Barboza either, but rather his counterpart Lee.

At the age of only 25, Lee has plenty of experience already. He’s entering his 13th UFC fight, and he already has a title fight under his belt.

The lightweight division has one major question hanging over it right now: Who can put the first defeat in the champion Nurmagomedov’s loss column? Well, the aforementioned Ferguson and Lee have the best chances out of anyone in the top 10 of the lightweight division. It’s too early to start breaking down a possible future clash between Nurmagomedov and Lee, but it’s certainly not too early to break down the fight we have ahead of us this weekend between Lee and Barboza.

We’ve already seen what happened to Barboza when he entered the cage with Nurmagomedov, now the undisputed lightweight champion. There are no questions left about that fight. With a victory on Saturday, especially a dominant one, Lee can propel himself into the title picture instantly. If Lee does get a dominant victory this weekend, then things should be a whole lot more interesting, especially with Ferguson out of the picture for a bit.

Lee has a huge opportunity on Saturday to pick himself back up from the loss to Ferguson in October. He can prove how much he learned from that fight against arguably the best fighter in the division. More will be said about this fight as Saturday draws closer, but make sure you don’t miss it. It could be the start of something special.