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‘I spent the prime of my life as a warrior’ - Kevin Lee talks helmet head tattoo

When the ‘Motown Phenom’ returns to action in 2021, he’ll do so sporting a big, bold new piece of ink.

Kevin Lee poses in the cage after his KO victory over Gregor Gillespie at UFC 244.
Kevin Lee poses in the cage after his KO victory over Gregor Gillespie at UFC 244.
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Unfortunately for Kevin Lee, his planned return to the welterweight division has been pushed back a few weeks. But, the ‘Motown Phenom’ recently opened up on his new ink and how it’s provided added motivation for his combat sports career.

On the back of a brutal submission loss to Charles Oliveira in the UFC’s last pre-pandemic event in 2020, Lee spoke openly about his waning interest in mixed martial arts, suggesting he might even take a several years long hiatus from the sport.

“I think I’ve got to evaluate some things,” Lee told media members after his loss to Oliveira. “I felt like my camp was great. My coaches told me all the right things to do. I abandoned it – it’s all on me on this one. So it’s going to be maybe a few years or so.”

But, as has been the case for so many people over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic changed a few things. Following several months on the sidelines Lee recently revealed that he was feeling refreshed and back in love with the sport. “I really had to sit with it and realize, ‘Man, this is what I do—this is what I love to do,’” Lee told MMA Junkie in an interview back in February.

Alongside that renewed passion came a new major piece of body decoration. Lee first posted pictures of his new ink back in November of last year. MMA Fighting spoke to him about why he chose such a bold statement piece, and how he sees it as motivation to keep fighting.

“I tatted the helmet on me to remind me what I actually do,” Lee said. “It will be something that follows me for the rest of my life. I spent the prime of my life as a warrior. So it just made sense to kind of remind myself everyday, it’s hard to not finish that extra run. It’s hard not to finish that extra round when you’ve got a f*cking helmet tatted on you.

“As the restart of my career, not a lot of people have seen me with this so I feel like it’s going to elevate me in all different aspects. People are noticing me now. A lot more than even when I was at the peak, I felt like in my career. After the first couple fights with this tatted on me, I feel like it’s going to take it to a new level.”

Lee also added that he took some inspiration from the rap artists who often get highly visible face, neck, and hand tattoos as a statement that “you can’t go back” to a normal workaday job with a tattoo like that.

“Motiviation comes and goes, so you’ve got to force yourself,” Lee explained. “That’s what being disciplined is. It’s just part of the discipline in a weird kind of roundabout way.”

Lee was supposed to face Sean Brady on the undercard of UFC 264 this coming July 10th. However, Brady recently revealed that Lee has withdrawn from the bout due to injury. Rather than looking for a new opponent, it sounds as though Brady his hoping the fight can be re-booked for August. The fight would be Lee’s first since losing to Oliveira in the spring of last year.