Kevin Lee retires from MMA following UFC 290 loss: ‘I’m proud that I went out on my shield’



Kevin Lee
Kevin Lee | Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Kevin Lee is officially retiring from MMA.

At UFC 290, Lee made his return to the UFC, losing to Rinat Fakhretdinov by first-round submission. It turns out that will be the final fight of Lee’s career. On Tuesday, “The Motown Phenom” posted a retirement message to his Instagram, saying that he was hanging up the gloves for good to pursue other ventures.

“To make a long story short, I’m deciding to retire from MMA and the UFC. It’s been 12 years, 12 long years of me being the best fighter I can be, and a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication to trying 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, some of the toughest guys in the world, I always put up a fight, I never backed down, and always challenged myself to do things that I didn’t think I was capable of doing. 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’ve got to think about more than just myself, and I think that my skills and the time and the energy that I’ve put into this sport, I can put into something else and God willing, all glory to God, he’s going to lead me down a different path, the right path, where I can use my skills to help people. I think if I dedicate myself and give just as much hard work to doing something else, the sky’s the limit.

“So again, I hold my head up high. I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to but I’m proud of myself for this career that I’ve had and I appreciate everybody who has given two f****s about me and everybody who has supported me. Even the people that kind of doubted and hated along the way, I appreciate everybody. It’s been a hell of a journey. I’m still young, I still capable of doing a lot in this life and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Still only 30 years old, Lee accomplished a lot in his 11-year career. After making his UFC debut in 2014, he amassed a 9-1 record to start in the promotion and established himself as one of the best lightweights in the world, even fighting for an interim lightweight title against Tony Ferguson. After that loss, things began to decline for Lee, who went 2-5 in his remaining seven fights in the promotion, and even left the UFC briefly to fight Diego Sanchez in Eagle FC. Lee retires from MMA with an overall record of 19-8.

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