The Curious Career of Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: Kevin Lee poses on the scale during the UFC 244 weigh-ins at the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden on November 1, 2019 in New York, New York. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Kevin Lee seems to have all the talent in the world. While inconsistency has haunted his career, the lead up to every Kevin Lee fight has people asking the same question: Can Kevin Lee put it all together? After Lee’s loss to Charles Oliveira at UFC Brasilia, that questions still looms over his career.

The Rise & Fall & Rise again of Kevin Lee

After mauling Michael Chiesa back in June of 2017, Lee had finally made his way to an interim lightweight championship shot. While he had early success against the streaking Tony Ferguson, his cardio failed him. Ferguson took over, submitting him in the third round. Lee was incredibly emotional after the fight, but that didn’t stop him from taking on a hard challenge in his next bout. Getting submitted and taking hard fights seem to be two constants in Lee’s back-and-forth career.

Lee next faced Edson Barboza and put on an impressive performance for nearly five rounds before the doctor had seen enough. His next fight was a rematch with Al Iaquinta. Iaquinta was Kevin Lee’s first UFC opponent and his first career defeat. At this time in both men’s careers, it seemed safe to say that Lee was ready for the challenge. Lee turned in an odd and unimpressive performance on his way to a decision loss. These three fights had Lee fluctuating between contender and journeyman.

Moving Gyms & Weight classes

Kevin Lee did what a lot of fighters do after devastating losses – they move weight classes. Lee has often had trouble making weight. Moving up fifteen pounds to Welterweight seemed to be a logical step. Debuting to perennial contender Rafael Dos Anjos, however, was not as logical. Lee suffered a round four submission. He had already moved weight classes so what else is a fighter to do?

With his career once again at a crossroads, Lee changed camps. He went North to Montreal Canada to join Firas Zahabi and his team at Tri-Star gym. It seemed to be a logical fit, and Lee’s next fight, against the undefeated rising contender Gregor Gillespie showed Lee have the performance of his career.

A devastating Left high Kick switched Gillespie into unconsciousness.  Many fans had the same thoughts they had after Lee’s win against Barboza – Lee was back & had figured things out! As we saw this Saturday though, Lee’s inconsistencies and holes in his game are still there.

While he had success against Charles Oliveira, he once again suffered a submission. Lee was honest and open in his assessment of the performance, but once again finds himself at a crossroads. This time, his first response was to take a ‘few years off.’ After Lee reached the highs of last year’s best knockout, the question of Kevin Lee’s skill was presumably answered, but it is a question that likely will always remain in the minds of fans.

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