Kevin Lee still has a lot left to accomplish, and he’s confident all of his goals can be met while fighting outside of the UFC.
As the one-time UFC interim title contender prepares for his debut at Eagle FC 46 on Friday night, he’s completely at peace with his decision to sign a four-fight deal with the fledgling promotion owned by Khabib Nurmagomedov. Although there are other longer-tenured promotions like Bellator MMA and the PFL that offer bigger TV deals, Lee is certain that Nurmagomedov’s team will do all they can to ensure that Lee faces the very best opponents now that he’s part of their family.
“It is an exciting time,” Lee stated on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “It’s kind of reinvigorated me a little bit. It’s like my chip got bigger and I have a lot of things to prove .”
Lee began his journey to Eagle FC after his unexpected release from UFC. This was two months after his previous loss in the octagon. Lee was not expecting this to happen, but it forced him to explore the open market and discover other options.
When Eagle FC came calling with a lucrative offer, Lee began to realize that fighting in the world’s most prominent MMA promotion doesn’t always equate to success.
Now he’s not only happy with the financial compensation he’s receiving, but the 29-year-old fighter anticipates even more athletes doing the same once they hit free agency.
” There are some matchups I’d love to see,” Lee stated. “I’m still a fan of the sport. Good matchups are still something I would like.
“Dustin Poirier has been talking about it. Nate Diaz also is speaking about it. There are a lot people who want to test more freedom of agency. Let’s make this happen and let people get what they want
Diaz may be the most prominent name currently waiting for the opportunity to enter free agency. He has one fight remaining on his UFC contract.
Diaz has been adamant about fighting out his contract and has been pursuing a showdown against Poirier in order to fulfill his UFC obligations before testing the open market.
Once he’s available, Lee welcomes the chance to face Diaz.
“Sounds like a huge one [with Nate Diaz],” Lee said. It sounds good .”
With a fight scheduled against Diego Sanchez for his Eagle FC debut and the potential to face opponents like Diaz down the road, Lee is confident he won’t struggle to find worthwhile fights outside the UFC. Lee is confident that he will be able to define his legacy, regardless of the fact that the UFC seems like the only place in town.
” I could certainly make my mark, and be larger than any UFC fighter right now in terms of global reach,” Lee stated. We all know one another and respect each other. But, I have seen a lot more people who are veterans and who are UFC champions. And you can take two steps beyond the MMA community without anyone knowing who they are. They aren’t likely to even glance at them.
” There’s so much more to life. So I feel like I could never step foot in the UFC octagon again and still be the biggest artist that they made, and be bigger than any of the other mixed martial artists that they’ve made.”
Lee doesn’t rule out the possibility of returning to UFC in the near future. He isn’t afraid to make a statement about his career and won’t let anyone down. He appreciates the time he spent in the UFC, and under the right circumstances, he’s not opposed to fighting there again.
“I could see me going back for the right fight,” Lee said. The UFC has the most competitive fighters in the world. The UFC does do a good job of grooming them and making guys there.
“I could see me going back there for the right fight. There would be several fights if you talked about Charles Oliveira after two of those. Conor McGregor would fight every time, but I can see myself going back to .”
For now, Lee is only thinking about the next four fights ahead with Eagle FC — and his mission to become a champion starts with his collision with Sanchez on Friday night.
“I sit back at the end of the day and I’m like, man, this s*** is working out kind of nice,” Lee said. This is quite nice. Next is a gold belt. This is all I have in my head.
“That’s all I’m thinking about these days and that’s how these fight camps go — it’s hurry up and wait. Now I’m like, let’s f****** do this s***. Let’s do it. Let’s do it. They are shining, but they have always been there for me. I cannot wait