Kevin Lee, the former interim lightweight championship challenger, is leaving it quits at the age of 30 after two stints in the UFC. Lee recently competed at the beginning of the month in his return to the UFC after battling for one bout outside of the company with Eagle FC. Lee’s attempt to return was futile, as he was submitted in 55 seconds by Rinat Fakhretdinov, therefore ending a comeback that had many people fascinated.
Kevin Lee announced his retirement from MMA and the UFC on his Instagram page on Tuesday, indicating that there are other things he’d like to pursue in life moving forward, while also noting that injuries played a large role in his decision.
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“To make a long story short, I decided to retire from MMA and the UFC. It’s been 12 long years of me being the best fighter I can be and a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication to try and be the best fighter in the world. When I look back on it, I had a hell of a career, I fought a lot of tough guys. I always challenged myself to do things I didn’t think I was capable of doing.
The last three years have been difficult, especially on my body; there have been several injuries, which is one of the main reasons I’m making a decision. After that last struggle, I needed another surgery. I’m proud of myself for going on my shield and on my own terms. I need to think about more than just myself at this point.”
Kevin Lee would go on to thank the fans that followed and supported him during his career, adding he is pleased of what he accomplished despite not being everything he set out to be.
Lee made his promotional debut in 2014 and went on to have a 7-year run in which he won 11 fights and was given the opportunity to fight for the interim lightweight championship against Tony Ferguson, a battle that Lee lost by third-round submission. Early in his career, the “Motown Phenom” bet on himself and left Michigan to pursue his full-time dream of becoming a professional MMA fighter, so he traveled to Vegas and began training at Xtreme Couture, and his career took off from there.
Lee won important fights over Michael Chiesa, Edson Barboza, and Gregor Gillespie in his most viral finish in the UFC, but he also faced some of the strongest opponents, including Charles Oliveira, Rafael dos Anjos, and Tony Ferguson.
Kevin Lee may not have accomplished everything he desired in his career, but he appears to be content with his decision, and it will be intriguing to watch where he goes in the next chapter of his life.