Shock UFC retirement: Returning welterweight says there’s ‘more to life than fighting’ – UPDATED

Kevin Lee has retired from the UFC following a quick submission loss in his come back fight.

By: Nate Wilcox | 4 weeks ago

Following a quick submission loss to Rinat Fakhretdinov at UFC in Vegas 76, Kevin Lee is retiring from the UFC. He retires with a 19-8 professional mixed martial arts record, 11-8 in the UFC Octagon.

Kevin Lee announced via Threads

The 30-year-old fighter took to Meta’s Threads platform to make the announcement. “I’m going to retire from the UFC but I can’t find the right words to use in the video. There’s more to life than fighting,” he wrote.


Update: Lee has issued a statement and confirmed his retirement

Lee followed up with a video on his Instagram, detailing his reasons for hanging up the gloves.

“To make the long story short, I’ve decided to retire from MMA and the UFC,” Lee said. “In 12 long years of me being the best fighter I can be. A lot of hard work, a lot of dedication for me to try and be the best fighter in the world.

“When I look back on it, I had a hell of a career. I’ve fought a lot of tough guys, some of the toughest guys in the world,” Lee said. “I 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. Honestly, that’s one of the main factors of me making this decision. I will need another surgery after that last fight,” he said. “But at this point I’ve got to think of more than just myself. I think that my skills, and the time and the energy that I’ve put into this sport, I can put into something else.

“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. I appreciate everyone that gave two f—ks about me and supported me, and even the people that doubted and hated along the way.”

Quick loss in UFC come back

Lee made his return to the promotion in July after beating Diego Sanchez via decision at Khabib Nurmagomedov’s Eagle FC 46 in March. Many fans had high expectations for Lee to make an impact at welterweight upon his return.

Alas, it wasn’t to be as Fakhretdinov quickly dropped Lee with a punch and then quickly choked him out via guillotine at the 0:55 second mark. Lee had gone 2-6 in the promotion since October 2017.

Strong lightweight run, struggles with weight

Lee made his strongest mark at lightweight where he went 9-3 in his first three years with the promotion and even fought Tony Ferguson for the interim title. Unfortunately, Lee struggled with knee injuries and had difficulty making the 155 pound lightweight limit. Two times Lee missed weight and had to fight at catchweight.

Eventually he tried moving up to welterweight but he went 0-3 in that division and got popped for adderall after his decision loss to Daniel Rodriguez in 2021. He was released from the promotion soon after.

Lee’s positive test the popular ADHD medication lead to a six month suspension and a $16,000 fine from the Nevada Athletic Commission.

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About the author
Nate Wilcox
Nate Wilcox

Nate Wilcox is the founding editor of As such he has hired every editor and writer to work for the site. Wilcox’s writing for BE is known for its emphasis on MMA history, the evolution of fighting techniques and strong opinions. Wilcox developed the SBN MMA consensus rankings which were featured in USA Today from 2009 to 2011. Before founding BE, Wilcox was a political operative working for such figures as Senators John Kerry and Mark Warner and an early political blogger. He is the co-author of Netroots Rising, a history of the political blogosphere from 2003 to 2007. Wilcox also hosts the Let It Roll podcast on music history for the Pantheon Podcast Network.

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