Longtime UFC veteran, Kevin Lee, was finally on the brink of lightweight greatness, securing a spot in the division Top 10 before challenging Tony Ferguson for the interim title at UFC 216 back in October of 2017.
Then it all fell apart.
After getting submitted by “El Cucuy,” the “Motown Phenom” dropped two of his next three, including his welterweight debut against Rafael dos Anjos. Lee was expecting to showcase a new and improved version of himself after abandoning his brutal weight cuts.
With that plan not working out the way he had hoped, Lee subsequently set up shop at Tristar gym in Montreal, where he’ll being training alongside former welterweight champion, Georges St-Pierre, under the tutelage of head coach Firas Zahabi.
As of this writing, Lee is targeting an October return and there is certainly no shortage of available opponents. Ben Askren has been knocked from the title conversation (literally) and fellow ex-lightweight, Michael Chiesa, would no doubt love a rematch.
Besides, who doesn’t love free money?
“I love free money, so I’m not gonna turn it down,” Lee told Submission Radio about a potential “Maverick” do-over. “I mean, he’s a good competitor, I’ll give him that. They’ve tossed him a couple of softballs. You know, I haven’t fought a Diego Sanchez in my career yet. I don’t get those kinds of softballs, I’m taking on former world champions. But we’ll see how that whole thing plays out. That fight ain’t going no different than the first time. I was whooping his ass the first time and choked him out, and he only lasted a round. So, we’ll see. If anything, maybe he’ll be able to last two. Maybe. Doubt it.”
Lee (17-5) submitted Chiesa when they first went to war at UFC Fight Night 112 back in June of 2017. There was some controversy after the fact, as “Maverick” claims he was not in danger of being submitted and actively trying to fight his way to freedom.
The promotion may be more interested in getting Askren back inside the cage to recoup some of the value lost when Jorge Masvidal toe-tagged him in just five seconds at UFC 239, and “Funky” does have some history with the “Motown Phenom.”
“I mean Ben (Askren) is probably the easiest out of the category, you know, out of anybody,” Lee said. “He’s just too hittable and he’s too one-dimensional. And he had that little back and forth with me at the press conference, talking about he took me down when I was 19 years old – as if that meant something to anybody. He didn’t talk about the right hand that I kept hitting him with right before that. But, hey, that’s water under the bridge.”
Lee, 26, has 15 fights under the UFC banner and has secured finishes in his last five wins.