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LAS VEGAS – Kevin Lee rarely has nothing to say. But today was a different story.

The UFC interim lightweight title challenger was far from his usual self during the UFC 216 media day, giving curt answers to standard pre-fight questions.

Of course, there was the huge elephant in the room, a tragic mass-shooting on Sunday that has rocked his adopted hometown to its core.

“Yeah, it’s rough,” Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) told MMAjunkie in advance of his Saturday pay-per-view headliner against Tony Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “There isn’t really much for me to say.”

Lee said it’s been a struggle not to shift focus on the biggest week of his career. He said Las Vegas is “different” since he returned to the city after a press jaunt in Las Vegas. But he promises to soldier on.

“I’ve got a job to handle,” he said. “I’m not going to let one man ruin that. He’s a coward.”

On several occasions, Lee said his performance would be a “celebration” that would bring the city together and show them about living. He also talked about bringing the belt back to his native Detroit to “wave it around the neighborhood” and “show the kids they can do it, too.”

But in light of current events, he said the topic of fighting feels very trivial. Even his animosity toward his opponent is accompanied by empathy.

“There’s so many bigger things in life,” he said. “Me and Tony, we might have a lot of back and forth, we might have a lot of disrespect, and I might not like him. At the end of the day, he’s going to be disappointed with the result, but I hope he goes home, he enjoys his life, he enjoys his family, and he keeps on living. I hope the same for me.”

Watch the above interview to get Lee’s thoughts on his upcoming fight.

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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