Following a win over Zack Shaw to close out his 2019 last November, welterweight Bobby Lee had thoughts of making 2020 a big year for himself, but things didn’t work out as he anticipated.
Originally slated to make his Bellator debut in February, Lee’s bout versus Shamil Nikaev was scrapped, and following the novel coronavirus lockdown, it appeared that his 2020 could be in jeopardy.
“It was looking like 2020 was going to be the first calendar year to go by that I didn’t get a fight,” Lee told MMAWeekly.com. “The beginning of the year didn’t start off so bad because I was supposed to fight for Bellator, but I was getting ready for that and it fell through one week out, so that was a major letdown.”
If there was any bright spot to Lee’s year is that he’s managed to make progress in his fight game.
“We got to open up the gym and got back to training and I got my brown belt in Jiu-Jitsu under Brock Larson, so to get recognized for that time on the mat and get that brown belt felt really good,” said Lee. “Early in the year I moved up in rank in Muay Thai at the Cellar Academy, so I felt like I was getting better as a martial artist.
“As far as 2020, I feel as strong and talented (as I ever have). It’s a combination of keeping my youthfulness, keeping athleticism, but having patience and knowing when to use it.”
On Friday in Tunica, Miss., Lee (11-4) will have his first bout of the year when he takes on TUF alum Mike Hill (11-4-1) in a 170-pound championship bout at CFFC 85.
“He’s a big guy. He’s fought at 185 pounds; I’m on the other end of the spectrum closer to 155 pounds than to 185 pounds; so he’s got that going for him,” Lee said of Hill. “I don’t think he’s anything especially scary on the feet or on the ground. His last seven fights have gone to decision, so he’s not getting guys out of there, but he is tough and he’s not getting blown of the water either.
“He’s had two five-round fights in his career. It’s a long layoff for him (at two years) but it is my longest layoff too. He’s coming off a five-round win going into another five-round fight, and this is my first five round fight.”
With things not going anywhere near how Lee though they would go in 2020, he’s taking things slowly, though he would like to close out the year with at least one more bout.
“It’s definitely one fight at a time,” said Lee. “It’s just mid-September, so there’s time to squeeze something in before the end of the year. So 2020 is not at a total loss.
“Especially bringing home the belt… if it’s only one fight in the whole year and it’s this fight and I come away with the win and the belt it’s not that bad of a year.”