I’ve said so many times before – I like Kevin Lee. But unfortunately, he has the wrong attitude for this business. The first time I noticed this about him, he was sulking in the cage after he lost the interim title to Tony Ferguson. Sulking, pouting, like a teenager. He seems very immature.
I feel bad for him on a personal level.
I wrote back in June 2019: I like Kevin Lee. I’m a fan. The way he acts annoys people, but it doesn’t bother me. The way he responds to losses breaks my heart a little bit. He takes it very seriously, very personally, and I don’t know if that’s the right way to think about losing. If he were my little brother, I’d tell him to use these losses as motivation. Heal up, get back to training, and don’t be so hard so yourself. Also, you lost to RDA, not some scrub, and he was a lot stronger than you tonight, bro.
But he’s not my little brother and here’s the deal: He’s having a hard time making 155 and always talking about a 165lb weight class. As that is not happening, he decided to move up to 170 and promptly ran into RDA. There were obvious problems, and examples are right in front of your face regarding these types of matchups.
Lee has a lot to think about moving forward. He should stay at welterweight if he believes his wrestling is strong enough to compete with Usman, Colby and Woodley. He’s young. Hopefully Dana gives him time to develop. At lightweight.
Fans should remember that UFC is a fighting and entertainment company. If they don’t see any value add in Kevin Lee, welp …
And that was before he started confessing about being drunk all the time, and more recently, the ADHD medication fiasco. He failed to ask for a therapeutic use exemption for this medication, which led to a positive test and thousands of dollars in fines. And now he’s cut. In hindsight, he thinks he should have picked his opponents:
“Don’t take these tough fights. I ain’t going to lie to you, don’t do it. Cherry pick. That’s what they really want to see,” Lee warned up-and-coming fighters on The MMA Hour (transcribed by Shaun Al-Shatti). “Man, they’re going to be your best friend when they want you to take the fight, they’ll damn near get on their hands and knees. But then afterward they’ll kick you to the curb. People told me that going into the UFC too. They told me that same thing. I didn’t really listen, I just kept trying to give them what they want. But don’t even do that. Cherry pick. Cherry pick like a MF’er. You’ll get further that way.”
I wrote previously that Conor’s skills suffered due to his cherry-picking opponents, and I stand by that. You get ahead in this sport by going through the fire. You cannot deny Dustin Poirier, Tony Ferguson, Eddie Alvarez, Nick Diaz, and so many others have been through IT. Of course, you must be strategic during negotiations, but in general, picking opponents does not guarantee success.
And now this: He received notice of his release via email – It was dated Nov. 17, and it didn’t come from any member of the UFC’s top brass – not president Dana White, not chief legal officer Hunter Campbell, not even matchmaker Sean Shelby.
“That was kind of the worst part about it,” Lee said Wednesday on “The MMA Hour.” “Didn’t really have the proper notice or even get a phone call about it. … Honestly, that’s what pisses me off the most – the lack of respect.”
Ridiculous. It became clear to the organization that Mr. Lee is struggling with several issues. Issues they don’t want to deal with in the future.
From my observation, they will give a fighter time to deal with personal issues if he/she happens to be very talented or very popular. Kevin Lee is talented and they kept him in the organization for quite some time. He kept his place during all his injuries, his change in camp, his losses. The positive drugs test and revelation of mismanaged adult ADHD, along with his admission of a drinking problem was much too much. He seems to be spiraling downward.
Good luck to him.