Following his UFC 216 loss to Tony Ferguson, Kevin Lee admitted that a visible welt on his chest was a staph infection. He suggested that he tried his best “to hide it” from regulators.
Lee admitted that the staph was known prior to the fight and his trainer noted that “medicine” was being taken to treat the infection. Lee went so far as to use makeup to conceal his infection telling Ariel Helwani that “I felt like I did a good job of using makeup and trying to hide the best that I could.“.
It is one thing for a fighter to try and cover up health issues from media inquiries but it is quite another when these are not disclosed on pre-fight medical questionnaires.
Both of the above facts may land Lee in hot water with Nevada regulators. The Nevada Athletic Commission pre-fight questionnaire asks about both “illnesses and diseases” and “medication”. These questions are asked “under penalty of perjury“.
Lee ticked the “no” box when asked about both illness and medication.
These denials were made under penalty of perjury one day before his bout.
It is baffling how Lee was able to compete with a visible staph infection. It is more baffling that regulators allowed him to continue a weight cut that “damn near killed” him after an initial failed attempt. A public records request to Nevada revealed that when NAC physicians declared Lee to be in “excellent physical condition” to compete his blood pressure was 106/52, he had a sitting pulse of 134 and a standing pulse of 152. These regulatory health and safety lapses, however, don’t excuse Lee’s answers on the questionnaire.
It is not know at this stage if Lee is facing disciplinary action for his non-disclosure. It is also not clear whether the NAC’s physicians failed to note this infection due to Lee’s attempts at concealment or whether the NAC was ok allowing Lee to compete with a known staph infection. Any answer is troubling from a health and safety perspective and this latest regulatory chapter in MMA’s books leaves much to be desired.