Andrea Lee has put herself able the place a title shot is getting nearer and nearer. She is going to look to take a giant step in that route subsequent Saturday evening when she faces Joanne Calderwood at UFC 242.

The occasion will happen at The Area, Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and the ladies’s flyweight matchup would be the featured preliminary bout.

With Lee being ranked No. 6 and Calderwood being the No. 5 contender within the division, a victory subsequent weekend will formally insert Lee into the title dialog. Whereas there are nonetheless some very pivotal matchups scheduled for in a while within the 12 months that may have a direct affect on the ladies’s 125-pound division, Lee is maintaining her focus the place it must be.

“With each battle, it’s essential to make an announcement,” Lee advised BJPENN.com. “Being within the top-5 will put me in line for a title shot and that’s a giant deal in itself.”

It’s onerous sufficient to be knowledgeable fighter on the highest degree as it’s. If you add what Lee has gone via over the past 12 months or so, it may be virtually unimaginable.

Final August, Lee was assaulted by her soon-to-be ex-husband, Donny Aaron, who allegedly burned Lee with a cigarette and choked her, in keeping with their former roommate and fellow fighter Andy Nguyen. This assault left Lee with a number of minor accidents and resulted in Aaron being charged with home violence/battery and false imprisonment. After being on the run for almost 9 months, Aaron was captured in Upshur County, Texas, after being pulled over for rushing in a faculty zone. Aaron was arrested after officers discovered marijuana in his possession and was extradited to Louisiana.

Coping with the whole lot she has handled, together with the media frenzy that occurred regarding the story, Andrea Lee has saved her focus and continued to evolve as a blended martial artist. “KGB” has picked up two spectacular unanimous choice victories in 2019 over Ashlee Evans-Smith and Montana De La Rosa respectively as she heads into the most important battle of her UFC profession subsequent Saturday.

As essential as climbing the divisional ladder has been, Lee — who simply signed a brand new six-fight extension with the UFC—- is combating for extra than simply being in rivalry for a world title.

“I’m not simply combating for a title and for that chance. I’m combating for myself, I’m combating for my daughter, I’m combating to make a dwelling, so for me, each battle is essential,” Lee defined. “Proper now, what’s on my thoughts is I would like this cash so I can dwell. I get pleasure from combating, I like combating and that is what I wish to do. Even when I had one million {dollars}, I’d nonetheless wish to battle as a result of it’s one thing that I like. Proper now, I’m not at that time. I don’t have one million {dollars}. I’m combating to dwell. I’m combating to safe my life at residence. Now I’ve obtained divorce, I’ve obtained custody, I’ve obtained bulls**t happening in my life, my focus is simply my household.”

After all, Lee has aspirations of changing into a UFC world champion. All fighters do. The 30-year-old surging contender is aware of she is near that shiny gold belt that signifies you’re the greatest fighter on the earth. Nevertheless, at this level in her profession, and with an sincere perspective on life and combating, Lee isn’t essentially in a rush to get there.

“It’s not that I don’t want the belt, I do need the belt, however I don’t, essentially, want it,” Lee defined. “That’s what I’m striving for. The champion, there’s rather a lot that goes into being a champion. That’s a giant weight to reveal and proper now, with the whole lot happening in my private life, I don’t know the way I’d really feel I’d deal with it. So it’s one battle at a time.”

What Lee is targeted on his her battle with Calderwood in Abu Dhabi. “Jo Jo” was thought of to be subsequent in line for Valentina Shevchenko and a shot on the UFC ladies’s flyweight title if she may defeat Katlyn Chookagian at June’s UFC 238 occasion. Calderwood would lose a unanimous choice in Chicago and appears to get again into the title dialog herself on Sept. 7.

After taking up back-to-back opponents with extra of a wrestling pedigree behind them, Lee is worked up to throw her fingers with a fellow striker.

“I feel it’s nice,” Lee stated in regards to the matchup. “I hoped to battle a striker for my subsequent battle. I’ve fought largely wrestlers the final couple of occasions so I’m trying ahead to this matchup with Joanne. Her Muay Thai is extraordinarily good, she’s actually savvy, and I feel we each match up rather well. I feel we’re going to have the ability to placed on an thrilling battle for the followers, for Dana White, and everybody.”

After her win over De La Rosa at UFC Greenville in June, Lee, as one would anticipate, had rather a lot on her thoughts and, regardless of getting her hand raised, wasn’t all that thrilled together with her efficiency. Going again and watching it, Lee felt rather a lot happier about it than she did within the second.

“It looks like there’s at all times one thing happening,” Lee stated. “I’m capable of stay centered on the duty at hand. I watched my final efficiency and I don’t really feel as badly anymore. In that second, I wasn’t pondering prefer it was my greatest. I’ve seen it and I feel it was a very good battle. Everybody thinks they will do extra, however I used to be capable of pull via on the finish and end sturdy.”

Andrea Lee shouldn’t be one which calls her photographs or predict how a battle goes to finish. It’s not in her nature to take action. What Lee can envision, nevertheless, is delivering a battle that followers will get pleasure from and maintaining her win-streak intact. If all of it goes down that approach, Lee hopes to have some extra cash coming her approach.

“I don’t like to invest,” Lee stated. “I really feel like I’m going to get my hand raised. It’s going to be an thrilling battle and hopefully we’ll have the ability to get a bonus. I feel that we each might be very thrilling, and I feel I’ve proven in my performances that I might be an thrilling fighter. Now that I’m combating one other striker, it may solely be enjoyable to look at. I hope everybody enjoys it, I hope I get my hand raised. We’ll see.”

There are some large fights arising within the ladies’s flyweight division of observe: Chookagian will face Jennifer Maia at UFC 244 and former title challenger Jessica Eye will tackle surging contender Viviane Araujo a month later at UFC 245. On the finish of the 12 months, the division will play itself out somewhat clearer by way of who will probably be subsequent to problem Shevchenko for the world title.

Andrea Lee is conscious of the opposite essential divisional matchups to bout out the calendar 12 months, however she is barely centered on a very powerful battle — her personal.

“I simply attempt to deal with my victory,” Lee said. “I don’t essentially fear how they end their fights and each battle I wish to go in there, be thrilling, and I simply wish to get the win. Nevertheless I’ve to do this, that’s what I’m going to do — whether or not it’s a knockout, submission, or choice — I simply wish to go on the market and get my hand raised.”

Catch Andrea Lee in motion at UFC 242 subsequent weekend. 

This text first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/30/2019.

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