Lee is set to make his Eagle FC debut at EFC 46 on March 11 against another former UFC standout, Diego Sanchez. Lee was let go by the UFC last year following a one-sided loss to Daniel Rodriguez at welterweight.
Lee is managed by Creative Artists Agency (CAA), which is the same firm that manages UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. The UFC and Ngannou have gone back-and-forth for months regarding negotiations for a new contract.
The relationship between CAA manager Marquel Martin and UFC president Dana White has been tense, to say the least. White has repeatedly taken shots at him in various interviews.
Lee’s release from the UFC was a surprise to many. During a recent interview with MMA Junkie, Lee reflected on his UFC release and whether or not it caught him off guard.
“To say I was surprised – no, not really,” Lee said. “I know the back end and all the stuff that goes behind closed doors. They really showed me no respect toward the end. I feel like I ate a lot of the flak for guys like Francis Ngannou in his situation with them. They used me as kind of like a pawn and a scapegoat. And really, I hope other fighters kind of see that. That’s what they do to you.
“They didn’t like the way negotiations was handled with Francis, so they took it out on me to kind of show (CAA) a lesson. But I think in the end, we’re going to show that you can’t necessarily treat people like this, and there’s many other ways to make money and kind of outshine them. So we’re going to beat them one way or the other.”
Ngannou most recently defended his heavyweight title against Ciryl Gane at UFC 270. He’s expected to undergo surgery on a knee injury he suffered leading up to the fight.
At 29 years old, Lee still has the opportunity to live up to the massive expectations bestowed upon him just a few years ago. As he gets ready to make his EFC debut, he’s looking to prove that the UFC’s decision to cut him was a massive mistake.
Do you think Kevin Lee could eventually work his way back to the UFC?