After two stints in the UFC, former interim lightweight title challenger Kevin Lee is calling an end to his career at 30-years old. Lee last competed at the beginning of the month in what was his return to the UFC after fighting outside of the promotion for one fight with Eagle FC. His attempt to return was an unsuccessful one, as Lee was defeated in 55 seconds by Rinat Fakhretdinov by submission, taking all the momentum away from a comeback that had many intrigued.
Taking to his Instagram page on Tuesday, Kevin Lee announced his retirement from MMA and the UFC, stating that there are other things he’d like to pursue in life moving forward, while also noting that injuries played a big 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 rough, especially on my body, it’s been a lot of injuries and honestly that’s one of the main factors of me making a decision. I’m in need of another surgery after that last fight. I’m proud that I went on my shield, I’m proud that I went on my own terms. At this point I need to think about more than just myself.”
Kevin Lee would go on to thank the fans who followed and supported him throughout his career, saying he’s proud of all that he accomplished although he did not achieve everything he set out to be.
Having made his promotional debut in 2014, Lee enjoyed a 7-year run where he compiled 11 wins and got an opportunity to fight for the interim lightweight title against Tony Ferguson, a fight that Lee lost by third-round submission. The “Motown Phenom” bet on himself early in his career and left Michigan to pursue his full-time dream of becoming a professional MMA fighter, so he moved to Vegas and started training at Xtreme Couture and his career took off from there.
Picking up notable wins over Michael Chiesa, Edson Barboza, and Gregor Gillespie in his most viral finish in the UFC, Lee also faced some of the best competition around, fighting names like Charles Oliveira, Rafael dos Anjos, and Tony Ferguson.
He may not have achieved everything he wanted to in his career, but Kevin Lee sounds at peace with his decision and it’ll be interesting to see where he goes in the next chapter of his life.
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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