May 21, 2017

UFC Fight Night 112: Manufactured Hate Or Not, People Are Now Aware of Kevin Lee vs. Michael Chiesa

By Raphael Garcia

Just over a week ago, the mixed martial arts social media space was given a viral video, as Michael Chiesa and Kevin Lee came to blows during the media event heading into UFC 211. The aftermath of their back and forth that led to a brief altercation has yet to reveal itself, but one thing is true – there’s a renewed interest in their upcoming bout.

Chiesa and Lee are due to headline UFC Fight Night 112 at the end of June. To many, this event didn’t capture the attention of many fans and wasn’t highly anticipated amongst the media base. The storylines heading into this card focused mainly on B.J. Penn making yet another attempt to return to prominence and questions about how Johnny Hendricks will look in his continued push as a middleweight. Yet neither of these men is included in the five-round bout at the top of the card. That is the space occupied by Lee and Chiesa, two lightweights who are ranked by the UFC in its top 15, but have never been head turners. Now, they both have the chance to change that perception.

Self-promotion in MMA is a practice that is becoming increasingly common, and while many look at Conor McGregor as the current trendsetter, he’s far from the first, as names such as Chael Sonnen and Josh Barnett come to mind. More and more fighters are making a concerted effort to promote themselves in any way they can, beyond the opportunities that the UFC provides. Lee is one of those men, as he uses not only his social media platforms, but any media platform willing to push his message out. While many may not agree with his propensity to say whatever he can to get attention, it’s clearly working in his favor.

UFC Fight Night 112 is the highest point in Chiesa’s career, even more so than his victory in The Ultimate Fighter 15. Even with a record of 14-2, he’s struggled to reach main event level on cards, as he’s earned quality wins but nothing to immediately vault him into contendership. Lee may not be the kind of “name fighter” Chiesa needs, but he is creating the chaos that will make the spotlight shine brighter on both men when they compete. Lee’s 8-2 run in the Octagon is impressive but struggles in the same way as Chiesa’s resume: it lacks that star-making moment. UFC Fight Night 112 now has the potential to be that moment for both men.

The stale “Don’t talk about my momma” rant that led to the scuffle was laughable at best, but it turned heads. As the new week begins, expect many media members to have this moment as a talking point in their scheduled pieces and shows. That’s the whole point of promotion; garnering attention for a big event. Some may wonder whether the animosity between the two men is real or manufactured, but regardless of the answer, more people are aware of this upcoming fight. In the end, that’s what matters.


UFC Fight Night 112: Chiesa vs. Lee takes place June 25, 2017 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Click the stars to rate how good you think UFC Fight Night 112 will be.
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