Kevin Lee is a compilation of rarities. At just 21 years old, he is one of the youngest fighters on the UFC roster and the only one from Detroit, Michigan. Set to make his UFC debut on February 1st as part of the UFC 169 undercard, Lee is fully prepared to shake up one of the toughest and most talent-filled divisions in the world at 155 lbs. As you can image, Detroit isn't exactly a hot-bed for MMA. Kevin Lee's journey to the UFC was far from easy, and in speaking with Lee, we began to understand some of the obstacles he had to overcome along the way.
"The MMA scene in Detroit is practically nonexistent. There are gyms and events thrown in the greater Detroit area, but I am one of the very few professional MMA fighters that was born and raised in the city."
Beyond MMA, Lee describes growing up in Detroit as 'rough,' but credits his parents for keeping him out of trouble and making sure he had the best education possible.
"I was fortunate that I had two parents that woke up every morning and rode the buses with me from the inner city so that I could get a real education in a school in the suburbs. If not for my parents and the things they had to do, I would most likely be in jail or dead right now. Most of my friends that I grew up with just didn't make it, but that is just the sad reality."
Lee got his start in combat sports by joining the wrestling team in high school. He then went on to pursue MMA, using his strong wrestling base to control opponents and his improved striking, while separated and in the clinch, to pick his opponents apart on the feet. With an arsenal of submissions at his disposal as well, including a deadly guillotine choke, Kevin Lee is one of the most well-rounded prospects in the world. When asked if he believes he'll be named the UFC Lightweight Champion one day, he responded with confidence.
"Of course I do, if I didn't I wouldn't be here. I think I have the time, the skillset, and the focus to be champion. A lot of what this game comes down to is timing, the right matchups, and the fans. I'm just trying to put it all together at a time. I think I can fight any style of fighter out there. My focus is to be as well-rounded as possible and I only continue to add on to that."
Kevin Lee certainly has a bright future ahead of him and the right attitude to capitalize on every opportunity along the way. With an unblemished professional record of 7-0 (17-0 overall) and a plethora of finishes, those in the know are extremely excited to see what he can do on the big stage. And those who are unfamiliar with Lee likely won't be for long. Make sure you tune in on Super Bowl weekend for the prelims on FOX Sports 1 to catch the beginning of Kevin Lee's climb to the top. It should be a wild ride.