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Kevin Lee vs. Diego Sanchez targeted for March 11 Eagle FC event

UFC 253 Sanchez v Matthews Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

Kevin Lee’s Eagle FC debut is expected to take place March 11 in a 165-pound fight against The Ultimate Fighter 1 winner Diego Sanchez.

Multiple people with knowledge of negotiations told MMA Fighting the bout is in the process of being finalized. Lee also announced the matchup via Instagram before deleting the post. Sanchez on Saturday confirmed it via Twitter.

Lee, who earlier this month signed with Eagle FC, mentioned Sanchez as an option for his debut in an interview on The MMA Hour. The one-time UFC interim lightweight title challenger chose the Khabib Nurmagomedov-fronted MMA promotion over several offers in the wake of his unexpected release from the UFC after an eight-year run.

After a tumultuous year and subsequent UFC release, Sanchez sought to continue his career and appeared on the cusp of signing a deal with the upstart BKFC. His plans were interrupted by a serious battle with COVID-19 that required an extended hospitalization. Earlier this month, Sanchez said he’d recovered from the virus.

Sanchez’s UFC exit was accompanied by a fight over medical clearance with his now-former manager and coach, Joshua Fabia. With three fights on his contract, he was released after Fabia requested all of his medical records during his 16-year run with the promotion and he declined to certify he wasn’t suffering from any issues with his neurological health. Sanchez and Fabia told MMA Fighting he had passed all of his required medicals for a fight against Donald Cerrone at UFC Vegas 26.

A veteran of the lightweight and welterweight divisions, Sanchez will split the difference in weight against Lee, a longtime advocate for the opening of a 165-pound weight division that better suited his frame. The new weight class was one of the reasons Lee cited for his decision to sign with Eagle FC.

The March 11 event is expected to take place in Miami, though a venue has not been formally announced.