Andrea Lee comes into what she considers her “toughest fight yet” in a very good place.
The flyweight, affectionately nicknamed “KGB” Lee for her Russian beauty (she’s not actually Russian, but rather a Texas native), has won back-to-back wins. A third straight win, against Viviane Araujo, could put the No. 9-ranked fighter on the cusp of the top five.
Along the way, she’s had a lot of help, especially from her partner and UFC fighter, Tony Kelley, who obviously knows her better than anyone. As for Kelley’s role in his corner, that’s a little harder to pin down.
“I guess you would say head coach. It’s not a role he really wanted to have because he’s also a fighter,” Lee (13-5) recently told Cageside Press. “So he’s never really tried to be a coach, but he wants to help me. So he doesn’t mind helping me and coaching me and giving me some of the techniques and stuff that he I guess he embraces it a bit, but at the same time he’s still a fighter too and he needs to be coached.
Lee gets back to work a little later than she had hoped, or at least not necessarily where she had hoped. It was a date in Texas, but she missed the UFC 271 card in Houston in February – and ultimately got booked long before the recently announced UFC Austin event.
“KGB” petitioned to participate in the Houston show, to no avail. “Since the card was full, I just had to wait for Mick Maynard [UFC matchmaker] was something available. And they did, they also offered me a fight in Brazil against Viviane, but I didn’t want to go to Brazil,” Lee revealed. “I was like, this is not the fight, I don’t want to turn her down, but I don’t want to go to Brazil, because I’m not getting vaccinated, and I don’t want to deal with all the thefts and others.
As it turns out, the UFC opted to keep the match together and moved it to the United States (as it stands, the promotion has yet to announce its return to Brazil, despite rumors earlier in the year).
In the meantime, Lee has been busy training and doing mommy duty. Her daughter, who grew up around the fighting game, recently took offense to an interview she found online featuring her mother Andrea saying her daughter doesn’t view fighting as a sport. It seems, Lee said, that her daughter changed her thinking as she got older. Yet his day job seems cooler to his daughter’s friends than to his daughter herself.
“It’s just something she’s always been there so I don’t know, mom is a UFC fighter I guess that’s cool to say but I don’t think it really means anything “, Lee told us. “But for his friends, it’s really cool. And I guess her friends, when she sees their reactions, it means more to her. She confuses me sometimes, she goes back and forth!
Welcome to parenthood. But navigating the online world with her child and navigating the period of motherhood is particularly dangerous for a public figure who went through a very serious and very unfortunate breakup with her abusive ex a few years ago. Lee knows all the details are there, including some that aren’t based on fact.
” That’s a very good question. I don’t know, it’s hard. It’s really difficult. There are many things on the internet that are not necessarily true as well. If it comes from my mouth, it’s true. But it’s like, don’t believe everything you hear,” she said of the incident and the whirlwind of headlines and media coverage it generated. “If you see something on the internet, it’s usually to sell the story. There are headlines like “Andrea KGB Lee was burned by her husband”. It didn’t happen, but it was a caption to draw people in, to get them to read their story. But if you haven’t heard it from me and it’s not a quote from me, then don’t believe it otherwise.
Lee is clearly in a much better place these days, putting both her personal issues and a three-fight skid behind her. Getting over the losing streak forced her to do “a lot of thinking,” she admitted. Essentially, she had to find herself. “I think with those last two fights, I was able to do that.”
Mentally, Lee said, “I’m much better, I’m in a much better place.” Changing his training also helped. “Making it fun again, I think, was a big thing for me.”
“I feel like I’m better now. I feel like I’m growing, learning things every day and adding new tools to things I’m already good at. And it’s like I see myself becoming a better fighter, a better athlete overall. And I’m just, I’m happier. And I think that really helps a lot.
After losing for the first time in the UFC, doubts began to set in, admitted KGB Lee. “I lost my fight against Joanne Calderwood, and then that’s kind of where the doubt started to set in. And then I lost my second fight, and then it’s like ‘shit!’ I really put myself out there in that fight, and I felt like I left everything in the cage, and I still lost that fight. And then my third fight came. It’s just easy to keep doubting yourself, and that seed will keep growing, and you have to do something before it completely takes over. And I feel like I did that, and I have the impression that the people around me have helped me enormously.