The UFC's lightweight division was already crowded at the top going into this weekend. Well, add another name to the mix.
Former interim title challenger Kevin Lee (17-3) turned in one of the best performances of his career Saturday, defeating Edson Barboza via TKO at 2:18 of the fifth round. Cageside physicians stopped the bout, which headlined UFC Fight Night in Atlantic City, due to a cut over Barboza's right eye.
That cut was only a small sample of the damage Lee caused, as he racked up 233 total strikes, according to Fightmetric. Barboza landed just 64.
A former collegiate wrestler, Lee dominated Barboza (19-6) on the floor but looked comfortable on the feet as well. The only hiccup came in the third round, when Barboza stunned Lee with a spinning wheel-kick to the side of the head. Lee was rocked by the shot, but managed to take Barboza down moments later.
"I said it before this fight, mental strength would win it," Lee said. "I wanted to go all five rounds and show my compete game. I can do it all. I feel I'm the most complete fighter in this division. I can stand with the best striker in the world. Edson Barboza is 100 percent the best striker in this division."
Lee, who fights out of Las Vegas, had been calling out UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov during fight week, and that didn't stop on Saturday.
"Folks know what time it is," said Lee, when asked what he wants next. "It's Khabib time, baby."
Barboza, who fights out of New Jersey, has now dropped two in a row in absolutely devastating fashion. He endured a brutal, 15-minute loss to Nurmagomedov in December. The Brazilian veteran was badly outwrestled in that matchup, as well.
Despite the lopsidedness of the bout, Barboza never showed any quit. The spinning kick in the third round nearly turned things around. He also landed a hard knee on Lee as he shot for a takedown in the fourth, but Lee pushed through it.
It would have been a perfect week for Lee, had he not missed weight by one pound during Friday's official weigh-in. Lee has openly talked about how difficult his weight cut is to 155 pounds, but had expressed optimism going into fight week.