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Morning Report: Kevin Lee admits to being ‘a little jealous’ of Sean O’Malley: ‘He did it the right way’

Kevin Lee
Kevin Lee
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

For the last few years, Kevin Lee has been one of the biggest names in the UFC. All that ended last month though when Lee was released from the organization following a six-month suspension by the USADA for his ADHD medication. As he looks back on his tenure in the UFC, “The Motown Phenom” believes that he could have been an even bigger star had he been a little more choosy during his career.

“I’ve got to tip my hat to Sean O’Malley,” Lee said on The Schmozone Podcast. “He knows how to come up. He did it the right way. Honestly, I wish I would have took a couple of pages or two out of his book and had that ability to kind of pick and choose my fights and put on great performances like that. He’s doing it the right way.”

O’Malley, one of the sport’s rising stars, has come under fire from his peers for the trajectory his career has taken. Signing with the UFC in 2017 off of Dana White’s Contender Series, O’Malley has amassed an 8-1 record in the organization and received a substantial push from the UFC, all while showing an active disinterest in facing ranked opposition. It became such a pervasive narrative that UFC President Dana White felt compelled to defend O’Malley’s matchmaking earlier this month, but Lee says there is nothing to defend.

“I’m not mad at him for it,” Lee said. “I’m a little jealous, I ain’t going to lie. I’m a little jealous. He doesn’t have to fight jiu-jitsu black belts and then in the next fight, fight a world-class striker, and then fight a world-champion kickboxer, and then fight a wrestler. He doesn’t have to do that so I’m a little jealous. But I tip my hat to him for doing that, though.”

There’s no use crying over spilt milk though and Lee is already onto new ventures in his MMA career. Earlier this month Lee signed with Khabib Nurmagomedov’s Eagle FC where he will compete in the organizations newly minted 165-pound division. It’s a division that Lee has long wanted to have established in the sport and he’s excited about the opportunity.

“Now we actually making it a reality and that’s crazy,” Lee said. “I think we’re gonna further the sport with this. I look at this like a partnership, It’s not so much that I signed underneath him. We’re gonna work together through this and build something bigger for the sport. I think it’s for the sport to get bigger, not just the UFC, or not just Bellator, or not just the PFL. Now it’s like, okay let’s make MMA as big as it can possibly be.”


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For some perspective on Kevin Lee vs. Sean O’Malley as far as prospect development goes, Lee did not compete on the main card of a pay-per-view until his interim title fight against Tony Ferguson at UFC 216, three years and 12 fights into his tenure with the UFC. Meanwhile, six of O’Malley’s eight fights in the organization have been on PPV main cards.

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.

If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @JedKMeshew on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.

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