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Morning Report: Kevin Lee says he ‘probably should have retired’ after Charles Oliveira fight, reveals torn ACL

UFC Fight Night: Lee v Oliveira Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC

Kevin Lee is headed back under the knife.

UFC Vegas 76 went down earlier this month and saw the return of “The Mo-Town Phenom” Lee inside the octagon. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old one-time interim UFC lightweight title challenger, he was far from 100 percent, resulting in a 55-second demise.

Rinat Fahkretdinov scored an early knockdown against Lee in their welterweight tilt before sinking in a frighteningly deep guillotine choke that forced Lee to sleep. Lee has since announced his retirement in the weeks that followed and now reveals he’s been dealing with a serious injury since his final win, which came via unanimous decision against Diego Sanchez at Eagle FC 46 in March of last year.

“My knees have just been giving me hell for three years now,” Lee told Submission Radio. “The hardest thing before this was weight-cutting, right? Me going up to 170 kind of alleviated that but I’ve never had to deal with this type of injury before.

“I don’t move the same. I’m not moving at the same speed as I was before. I had to take it easy the whole camp then try to turn it on during the fight and honestly, I just wasn’t ready for that speed. My body is just not — my knees are not prepared. I’ve got a torn ACL. I’ve had it since that Diego Sanchez fight. I decided not to get the surgery after the Diego Sanchez fight and just strengthen it and fight on it. But it’s pretty obvious and clear that I need to have surgery on it.”

In the aftermath of the loss, Lee recalled being sent a video of his entrance into the octagon where he historically does a big jumping stomp once walking through the cage door. Watching the clip, Lee could tell the difference from this time to the past and noted that he hurt himself multiple times throughout camp.

Once a near-perfect contender at 155 pounds, Lee’s career never recovered from his interim title loss to Tony Ferguson in October 2017. He went 3-5 in his final stretch that followed, getting submitted in three of those five losses. Ultimately, Lee feels he should have hung up the gloves three fights and years sooner than he is.

“If I’m really being honest, it’s something I’ve been thinking about since I fought Charles Oliveira,” Lee said. “Even Firas Zahabi will tell you, sometimes when you get done with a fight and you walk into the back, sometimes you have moments like, ‘What the f*** did I just do? What’re we doing? This is crazy, right?’ After that fight, I had a different type of feeling to it and part of me wants to post the post-fight interview that I did for that fight where I kind of told them I wanted to take a few years off, and honestly, I probably should have retired right then and there. But it was just that this is what I’d been doing for so long, this is where I put all of my heart and soul into that I just kind of double downed and made sure that this is what I was gonna do.”


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The MMA Hour.

UFC London promo.

Free fights.

DWCS - Next Level.

(Quick) Full fight.

PFL Specialist: OAM.

Gaethje’s Road to Utah.


On To the Next One. MMA Fighting's Mike Heck and Jed Meshew discuss the matches to make after UFC Vegas 77.



Changing it up.



Pain, indeed.






Juan Archuleta (28-4) vs. Hiromasa Ougikubo (25-7-2); Super RIZIN 2, July 29

Mike “Blood Diamond” Mathetha (3-2) vs. Charles Radtke (7-3); UFC 293, Sept. 9

Irina Alekseeva (5-1) vs. Melissa Dixon (5-0); UFC Fight Night, Oct. 14


Very crazy in hindsight that Lee didn’t go through with the surgery. I think that may have helped him mentally more than anything.

Thanks for reading!



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