Kevin Lee was struck by a wave of emotions after learning Tuesday that he was released from the UFC.
Perhaps the hardest pill to swallow was how impersonal it all was after the former interim lightweight title challenger received an email from a UFC coordinator rather than the one of the matchmakers or executives like UFC President Dana White or Business Manager Hunter Campbell.
“It was kind of the worst part of it all,” Lee said when appearing on The MMA Hour. “I didn’t really get the proper notice or even really get a phone call about it.
“At first I was a little shocked. I didn’t really understand what was going on. Then once I spoke to my manager, agent, and sort of made sure it was official, I called a bunch of other people. Edgy and a little embarrassed and that really doesn’t make much sense to me.
According to Lee, no one from the UFC contacted him about the release other than the email he received, so he ultimately contacted Campbell by phone.
“I heard from Hunter, he kind of fed me some bullshit,” Lee said. “But not from anyone else. I held out my hand to him. I found his number. That’s the main thing that annoys me about it. When we’re in the UFC that’s really all you fight for, it’s your respect. People respect you because you’re a UFC fighter when they hear the name, like they’re automatically giving you some respect. We don’t really do it for the money. There’s not a lot of fame in this shit.
“I did all this bullshit for all of you. I put myself and my body at risk just to end up with a drinking problem and a tax problem and at the end of the day you take my respect away too? It’s like OK, well shit. I will stop there.
After a lackluster outing on his return to welterweight in August, Lee suspected he might be on thin ice with the UFC, especially after hearing post-fight comments from White when he addressed his performance this that night.
“I had the feeling once that last fight was over – and it was a shit fight I’m the first to admit that ± – after that last fight was over and Dana [White] kind of spoke badly to me, I felt like something else was going on, ”Lee said.
“I don’t think it necessarily has to do with fighting. Of course, that’s what they’ll tell me. I’m on a two-game losing streak or whatever. One was at the world champion [Charles Oliveira] but I think there was more politics and stuff behind the scenes and I found myself in the middle of that.
As for the outside issues that may have led to his release, Lee didn’t want to speculate too much, although he couldn’t help but feel his relationship with his management team at CAA (Creative Artists Agency) – a rival from talent agencies to UFC owners at Endeavor – as well as clashes between the promotion and fellow CAA fighter Francis Ngannou could potentially have played a role.
“I just know it was more than just a fight,” Lee said. “I know it was more than my fighting skills and I know it was more than what’s on the surface.
“We are speculating right now. Dana didn’t call me on the phone to tell me. We are speculating, but if I was speculating correctly I would think so.
Add to that, Lee still can’t figure out why the UFC waited until three months after his last fight to release him from promotion.
“I wish they’d told me two months ago already,” Lee said. “I would have fought by now. I wanted to fight in December. I wouldn’t have to serve this suspension in Nevada. So I do not know. It’s kind of an ad * ck movement, isn’t it? It annoys you a bit, doesn’t it?
« J’imagine [the decision to release me] happened two weeks ago, November 17th, that’s when they finalized it, but they didn’t tell me anything until yesterday. Like I said, it was by email. I do not know. Honestly, I don’t know the politics behind it. I don’t know if other people were in negotiations. I don’t know what’s going on. It would have been nice to have a conversation and to be able to fight against my contract.
At just 29 years old, Lee still has plenty of time in the sport and he can’t wait to see what comes next, but even with a few impressive wins the Detroit native isn’t sure if he’ll cross paths again. UFC.
“A lot of people tell me not to hit them and keep the bridge open,” Lee said. “You can come back at some point. I don’t really want to. Why would I want to work with someone who is going to disrespect me like this? It’s crazy. This is the only thing we are fighting for in this game.
“My only goal and goal right now is to show that they just made one of the worst mistakes they’ve ever made. I’ll be a millionaire in about a year. So it’s fun.
Lee revealed that in the past 24 hours, his management team has already garnered interest from three different suitors, including Triller Fight Club.
No decision has been made on his next promotional house, although with a six-month suspension in effect until February 2022 due to a failed doping test after his last fight, Lee could simply wait until the end to conclude. an agreement with anyone.
Until then, Lee is certainly ready to listen to the offers and he promises the highest bidder will win.
“I am a prize fighter. So at the end of the day I’m going to go see who pays me the most, ”Lee said. “PFL won their Million Dollar Tournament, but there are a lot of ways to make millions here. I can even win a lot more than with the UFC.
“I had the top spots with the UFC, about eight main events, so that’s a lot of millions invested in marketing. I will take advantage of it now. There’s a part of me that wants to thank the UFC for all of this. They made me famous in the game at least.