Kevin Lee Reflects on Why Fighting Rinat Fakhretdinov Was “Terrible Decision”
By Kelsey Mowatt
Kevin Lee’s return to the UFC last summer turned out to be a disastrous night for the former lightweight contender, and recently Lee provided some additional context as to why.
Following his decision win over Diego Sanchez under the the Eagle FC banner in 2022, Lee returned to the Octagon to fight Rinat Fakhretdinov July 1st. Lee was quickly submitted by Fakhretdinov, and that prompted the veteran to announce his retirement.
More recently, however, Lee announced he plans to fight again. While talking with Middle Easy about that decision, Lee also revealed he was injured during his camp for the Fakhretdinov bout (quotes via MMA Fighting.com).
“In hindsight, it was a dumb fight, it was stupid,” Lee said. “I mean, I knew my knee was torn to shreds the entire time, it was the worst training camp that I ever had. I couldn’t even spar or go hard in the training camp at all. That fight was purely out of pride and ego of me being cut from the UFC, and not on the terms that I would have liked and me kind of getting this opportunity and letting my pride take over and say I would do it. Yeah. in hindsight, it was a terrible decision.”
The 31-year-old did make it clear that he intends to compete at lightweight moving forward, despite some of the issues he’s had in recent years to make 155 pounds.
“It’s a tough cut, it’s always been a tough cut, but I’ve always been able to make it,” Lee said. “The only time I wasn’t was for the Charles Oliveira fight, which I came close in but there was a lot of let’s say extenuating circumstances around the whole COVID thing and all that leading up to that fight and that weight cut that got it away. I think I’ve been a little soft about cutting weight over the last couple years. It’s tough, it’s probably the hardest part of the sport but I think it’s absolutely necessary, and especially if I’m gonna be chasing world championships. I have to go through it just like everybody else. We can look and we can say, ‘Oh, we shouldn’t be cutting weight or we should not blah, blah, blah,’ but at the end of the day, we gotta cut weight. If you want to compete, you’re gonna have to cut the weight and that’s what it is for me.”
In terms of his comeback fight, Lee (19-8) reportedly expressed an interest in fighting Tony Ferguson, or the loser of the expected Conor McGregor – Michael Chandler fight. Lee fought Ferguson for the UFC’s interim lightweight title in 2017 and was submitted in the third round.
The Michigan born fighter has gone 2-3 in his last 5 contests.