Kevin Lee has decided to put an end to his fighting career.
The former UFC interim title challenger and longtime contender announced his retirement from MMA in a video posted on his personal Instagram on Tuesday evening.
“To make a long story short, I’ve decided to retire from MMA and the UFC,” Lee said. “It’s been 12 years, 12 long years of me being the best fighter that I can be and a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication for me to try to be the best fighter in the world. When I look back on it, I had a hell of a career. I fought a lot of tough guys and some of the toughest guys in the world. I’ve always put up a great fight. I never backed down, and I always challenged myself to do things that I didn’t think I was capable of doing.”
This news may be surprising to some, as Lee is just 30 years old, and he recently re-signed with the UFC.
After almost two years away from the octagon, where he only competed once, defeating Diego Sanchez under the Eagle FC banner, Lee re-signed with his the UFC, but was unfortunately finished in under a minute by Rinat Fakhretdinov at UFC on ESPN 48 earlier this month.
In the retirement video, Lee broke the news, but also explained his decision to hang up the gloves at the young age of 30.
“The last three years have been rough, especially on my body. It’s been a lot of injuries and honestly, that’s one of the main factors of me making this decision. I’m in need of another surgery after that last fight. I’m proud that I went out on my shield. I’m proud that I stood up in there and went out on my own terms. But at this point, I have to think about more than just myself and my skills. The time and energy that I put in this sport, I can put into something else. And God willing, and all glory to God, he’s going to lead me down another path, the right path to where I can use my skills to help people.
“I think if I dedicate myself and I give just as much work to doing something else, the sky is the limit. So again, I hold my head up high. I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get to accomplish everything that I wanted to, but I’m proud of myself for this career that I’ve had, and I appreciate everybody that has given two f*cks about me and everybody that supported me, and even the people that doubted and hated me along the way. I appreciate everybody. It’s been one hell of a journey.”
Lee walks away from MMA with 27 professional fights under his belt, where he went 19-8. Perhaps his highest career moment came in 2017 when he challenged for the UFC interim lightweight title. He lost the fight to Tony Ferguson by third-round submission.
“The Motown Phenom” holds many notable wins. Throughout his 10-year-long career, he defeated fighters such as Edson Barboza, Michael Chiesa, Sanchez, Gregor Gillespie, Francisco Trinaldo, Efrain Escudero, and others.
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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie