Kevin Lee is returning to the UFC.
First reported by Brett Okamoto of ESPN, the ‘Motown Phenom’ has signed an ‘exclusive deal’ with the promotion more than a year after he was released. Earlier this week, Lee hinted at a reunion with the UFC after posting photos with UFC president Dana White and Chief Business Officer Hunter Campbell.
“I met with Dana White and Hunter Campbell, and I feel like I’m going back home,” said Lee in a statement to ESPN. “I’m grateful for them welcoming me back and looking forward to the next chapter of my career.”
A date for his return was not reported, but Lee said he expects it to happen in Spring. As far as weight class, the 30-year-old has settled on welterweight.
In his first stint with the UFC, Lee went 11-7 in 18 fights. During that time, he fought for the interim UFC lightweight championship against Tony Ferguson at UFC 216 over five years ago. After losing to ‘El Cucuy’ by third-round triangle choke, Lee went 2-4 in his next six appearances.
Following back-to-back losses to Charles Oliveira and Daniel Rodriguez, the UFC released Lee. The one-time interim title challenger entered free agency for a short period before he joined Eagle FC, the promotion spearheaded by former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Lee fought once under the Eagle FC banner, defeating fellow former UFC fighter Diego Sanchez by unanimous decision at Eagle FC 46 this past March. With the promotion not holding a US-based event since May, Lee was cleared to pursue other opportunities. Though he expressed interest in signing on for the upcoming season of Professional Fighters League (PFL) and being an opponent for Jake Paul, Lee came to terms with the UFC for a second stint.
About the author: Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016. (full bio)