By Lance Edwards
Bobby Lee (8-1) has shown himself to be a solid lightweight fighter with a lot of potential. He fought as an amateur for Legacy fighting Championship, and his professional fights include four for RFA and four for LFA. At LFA 41 he faces the undefeated Brazilian Killys Mota (10-0) in a fight that may well see this twenty-two year old Minnesotan make the lightweight division take note. Lee’s last fight was against Nick Ammerman (4-1), where Lee handed him his first loss via unanimous decision.
“It went pretty well. It was nice to get fifteen minutes in with a tough guy and show some of the skills I’ve been working on. It was the best fight of my career, but there’s an asterisk by it. I missed weight by 1.2 lb. I worked on my standup so much and I showed patience in the fight. That’s hard with a wrestling mindset. As Chael Sonnen says, he would rush across the cage, take them down and punch and elbow them through the floor. That was how I have tended to do things in the past.”
As a youth Lee wrestled, but his intention was to move into MMA. Outside of wrestling season, Lee would attempt to work on his jiu jitsu.
“Youtube was actually my first instructor, at first I just learned from videos. My first tournament was after I was just done with wrestling and was in shape. I went into the Jiu Jitsu match much stronger and in better shape than the Jiu Jitsu guys. I hit a flying armbar in that tournament. The first time I’d practiced it was in warm ups. It was a nine second fight. Someone in the crowd had it on video. When I visited Brock Larson’s gym, a guy there remembered me from doing the flying armbar.”
It was while competing at a tournament that Lee started moving towards a more formalized gym environment.
“At one of the local tournaments, Dave Owens saw me at the tournament without a coach and invited me to the gym. Ever since then I’ve been with Brock Larson and Start Jiu Jitsu. I also train at Cellar Kickboxing with Chris Cyclone who was with Team USA kickboxing. We have some good people there like Nate Richardson who is a Glory Kickboxer.”
With nine professional fights under his belt, Lee is already developing a solid reputation as a tough fighter.
“I’m excited for the fight. I’m 23 years old, ready to go to the UFC. I started working with Tony Martin, he’s in the UFC. When I was 16-17, I was training with guys at that level. I haven’t had an opponent reach out to me before a fight before, but he did. He was respectful and said let’s put on a good show. You can either be respectful or see your opponent trying to take food off your table and treat them like the Diaz brothers do. I’m not sure which camp I fit in. He’s a good opponent, there’ll be butterflies going in to it he fight. With no fear, you don’t perform. I respect this guy. He’s going to try and KO me and I’ll see what I can do to finish him.
“He’s a purple belt, a good striker. I think I can outwrestle him. If I need to get it to the floor I can, but if I want to keep it standing I also will be able to. I think he’ll try and hit me at a distance, and drag it out to the second and third rounds. I won’t let it happen. I’ll be like a bulldog and get in his face. “
At a lower level, MMA isn’t a sport where fighters are rolling in money. In fact even at a high level there are few fighters who are making large paydays. Lee represents a new generation of fighters who grew up watching MMA and training MMA, rather than by coming from other combat sports.
“Fighting MMA has been my goal since I was 12. I grew up on current MMA. I wasn’t one of the guys that just saw Jiu Jitsu as unbeatable. One of the first fights I saw was Royce Gracie against Matt Hughes. I started training MMA every day out of high school wrestling. The past two years I’ve been full time, I just train and fight. I make it by the skin of my teeth fight to fight. I’m like that Clubber Lang character in Rocky. I’m looking forward to actually making some money as a fighter.”
Along with Lee maturing and developing as a fighter, his approach to training is also developing.
“I get a lot of my strength and conditioning from my skills work, for example when I hit pads I’m going all out. I also do some strength and conditioning with Ben Larkin twice a week. It’s my first camp working with him. I feel like an athlete. We have been working on plyometrics and specific exercises. It’s not unfocussed conditioning for the sake of it. I did API and I couldn’t walk right for days. That’s detrimental to an athlete’s training. This is more sports performance than conditioning the mind. “
For fighters the next fight is always the most important, but this fight for Lee really represents the potential to see him moving on to the next stage in his career.
“I’d like to beat Killys decisively and get a strong finish. At the same time, Jeff Peterson fights Thiago Moisés who is an American Top Team fighter. It’s like a four-man tournament to get into the UFC. If I don’t get picked up after my fight, I’d like a rematch with Jeff for the vacant title. Every fighter’s goal is financial security. It’s about doing what you do and being comfortable. I’d like to travel the world and go to different gyms and see what they have to offer and do differently.”
Lee really has been a product of RFA and LFA. It has helped him become comfortable with bigger shows and even with dealing with media and interviews.
“The opportunity to fight in the co-main event means the world to me. I love this opportunity to be able to compete on the LFA stage. It’s internationally broadcasted. The world will get to see the fight.
“I’d like to thank Onnit. Aubrey Marcus and Andrew Craig have been good to me, Dethrone, Start Academy, Brock Larson, Cellar Kickboxing Academy and Chris Cyclone. I can’t wait for everyone to be proud of me with my hand raised.”