There was unexpected and shocking news for one of the more recognizable fighters on the UFC roster on Tuesday. Damon Martin and Guilherme Cruz of MMA Fighting were the first to report that former one-time interim lightweight title challenger Kevin Lee has been released by the UFC.
The “Motown Phenom” has had a rough go as of late, and parts ways with the UFC with a record of 1-4 in his last five fights, having fought between both lightweight and welterweight during his tenure with the promotion. Despite his tough run towards the end of his time with the UFC, Lee was among the most popular fighters through all weight divisions. Through 18 fights with the company, he went 11-7, with two fights (0-2) coming in the welterweight division.
Being notoriously known as someone who consistently called for more weight divisions in the UFC, specifically a 165-pound class, Kevin Lee just couldn’t find his rightful spot between two of the most competitive and popular divisions in the organization. In his most recent appearance, Lee came back from two knee surgeries to face Daniel Rodriguez in a welterweight clash, a fight he would lose by unanimous decision.
Following his loss to Rodriguez, Lee was also handed a six-month suspension by the NAC, although he was able to come to terms on a settlement.
Speaking to Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting on Wednesday, Lee spoke about his release and let his frustrations be known, saying there was a lack of respect from the UFC in notifying him of his departure.
"[I found out] through email… Didn't really have the proper notice or even get a phone call about it."
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) December 1, 2021
“[I found out] Yesterday morning, through e-mail. That was kind of the worst part about it, I didn’t have the proper notice or even get a phone call about it. Honestly, that’s what pisses me off the most is the lack of respect. I heard from Hunter [Campbell] he fed me some bullshit, but I haven’t heard from anyone else.
Acknowledging that the decision by the UFC to let him go shocked him, Lee said more than anything, he was pissed off by the move.
First I was shocked a little bit, I ain’t really understand what was going on. Then once I talked with my manager, my agent, and made sure that it was official, I hopped on the phone with a bunch of other people, and, yeah pissed, a little bit embarrassed, and it really don’t make much sense to me.”
Before his unfortunate ending with the UFC, Kevin Lee grew to stardom after he rode a five-fight winning streak to an interim title fight against Tony Ferguson, a fight which Lee fought while battling a staph infection on his chest. Ferguson would go on to submit Ferguson to claim the interim title.
There’s no telling what is next for Lee, but he did tell Helwani that he plans to compete at 170 pounds wherever he fights next.
Mike Pendleton is a current contributor to MyMMANews while also hosting his “On The Mic” podcast and is a former Associate Producer at Sirius XM’s Fight Nation.
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