Samantha Seff details what it was like inside Andrea Lee’s UFC fight camp
Samantha Seff details what it was like inside Andrea Lee’s UFC fight camp.
What does it take to win a UFC performance of the night?
Just ask for UFC flyweight Andrea “KGB” Lee, who just took that award after dominating fifth, seeded Cynthia Calvilo to earn a TKO victory in the second round after Calvilo couldn’t answer the bell at the start of the third round.
I was fortunate enough to train with Lee a few times during her combat camp in preparation for this match, including the last week before heading to Las Vegas. Let me just say that while I know a certain number of people who work harder than almost anyone else in the game, no one does it with as much dedicated resilience as Andrea Lee.
In the summer, I was fortunate to be able to attend a women’s MMA camp filled with many professional fighters from Invicta and UFC, and Andrea was one of them.
At the time, her match had just been announced against her original opponent, Jessica I. Eventually, Al-Ain would have to withdraw due to medical concerns and Calvilo’s intervention as an alternative.
If there was any fear regarding a new opponent of a much higher rank, it was pushed to the side of the road in favor of excitement.
Andrea was tempted by the chance to climb the rankings in the flyweight division facing such a prominent opponent. Calvillo is no newbie to the fighting game. She has had several awards in the hay weight division and recently started battling 10lbs heavier at the flyweight level. Lee is a seasoned veteran in the 125-pound division and was ready to show her tenacity and prowess on the biggest stage imaginable in her most intense fight to date.
Calvillo was recently recovering from his loss to former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade as Lee pulled off Antonina Shevchenko’s win with an arm bar that stunned many viewers.
A week before Lee was due to head to Las Vegas, she headed home to Louisiana with a few other ladies to help with preparations in any way possible for this match. We trained with her twice a day, morning and evening, while also making time for cardio in between. Not only did Andrea and her boyfriend (Tony Kelly) host us at their house, they also allowed us access to the in-house gym, meals, and even cool jeeps.
People can make assumptions about fighters however they want, but they really are some of the best people you’ll ever meet.
One of the things that amazed me the most about Andrea, is that she is such an amazing mom. She simply lights up whenever she talks about her daughter, even planning things to do with her soon after the fight. There is nothing greater than seeing someone radiate when they talk about something (or someone) they love, and you can really see the admiration and affection you have for their daughter.
These are the things in life that make grueling training sessions and grueling weight reductions worthwhile. I know that I personally can work better during camp when I get support from those I love the most.
While helping Lee through all of her combat training sessions, I was also fortunate enough to squeeze in a certain quality level of Jiu-Jitsu at the area gym, SMAA Soul Fighters Louisiana, with lead professor and Jiu-Jitsu coach Wayne Knudsen. I was at the same time preparing for the World Masters in Las Vegas, so I was very grateful for the welcome I received there when it came to the struggle. No wonder Lee’s brown belt pulled off such a stunning surrender in her last UFC match.
Not only were we given the opportunity to work with her trainer, but we were also fortunate to work with her amazing trainers as well, something I will never forget. These were some of the most knowledgeable people in the sport, and I’m grateful for all the wisdom they provided. They were an excellent blend of tough love, encouraging training, and uncompromising spirit. They have appeared day by day because they believe 100 percent in the athlete, and their efforts have paid off tenfold.
With plenty of rest and recovery, meticulously planned meals thanks to the caterers at the UFC as well as Tony’s support, every day was a well prepared plan. Sure, it can be upsetting for the mind, body, and spirit to enter the gym overcome with fatigue, exhaustion, and mental pain, but the hard work must be done in order to reap the rewards.
I don’t think there has ever been a day when Andrea didn’t make sure her guests were comfortable and at home. In fact, on one of our last days in Louisiana, she introduced me to a place where I had the best gumbo and jambalaya of my life. Southern charm and hospitality embodies its whole soul.
If you want to be the best, preparation is the most important thing you can do. Throughout the week, Andrea relentlessly fired her hit and body shots, which proved to be the deciding factor in her TKO victory. Believe me when I say that many of us have been victims of these painful blows, and I sympathize with Calvillo from the bottom of my heart.
I had never been so beaten up by such a nice person, and her coaches definitely knew what they were doing when making this game plan because she used her slasher punch and her utterly devastating body shots to completely incapacitate her opponent.
Not only did she win me in her fight; You really dominated.
Not being prepared means you are ready to fail, and I can say without a doubt that Andrea did everything she could to make sure she was well-equipped to emerge victorious.
In her true sympathy, she was modest in triumph and showed concern for her opponent’s well-being when the match was called. I am a force to be reckoned with and if you are not familiar with the name yet, you will soon be.
So what does it take to win a dominant show and an additional Performance of the Night Awards? For Andrea Lee, it is sheer willpower, disciplined attitude, true focus, indomitable spirit, kindness, compassion and enthusiasm that only the world’s elite athletes would have.
Unless you’ve been there before, it’s very hard to show how hard it is to prepare yourself for a fight, both mentally and physically, and anyone who does deserves all the respect in the world. Especially Andrea “KGB” Lee, who trained relentlessly on her game plan however stressful and went into battle ready to do the work.
I look forward to watching her continue to climb the rankings and come up with more wins.