Former interim title contender Kevin Lee ends his two-year hiatus from the UFC this Saturday night at UFC on ESPN 48. Lee headlines the prelims for the event against Rinat Fakhretdinov.
UFC On ESPN 48 Marks Return Of Kevin Lee
One-time interim title contender Kevin Lee is back in the UFC, as he faces Rinat Fakhretdinov this Saturday night at UFC on ESPN 48. The bout headlines the prelims for the event from the Apex in Las Vegas, airing live on ESPN and ESPN+.
Lee was released by the promotion in 2021 after issues with a positive drug test. He popped for Addreall and was suspended for six months, losing to Daniel Rodriguez in August 2021.
From there, the veteran signed with Eagle FC and scored a win in 2022 over Diego Sanchez. That was to be the first of four fights signed on his deal, but he rejoined the UFC in February of this year.
Kevin Lee Has Faced Some Of The Top Fighters In The World
After winning his first seven pro fights, Lee was signed to the UFC in 2014 and lost to Al Iaquinta via decision. He promptly won his next four fights, including a first round submission vs. James Moontasri.
In 2015, he lost to Leonardo Santos but quickly got back on track with five straight wins. That stretch featured four finishes, including a 2017 “Performance of the Night” over Michael Chiesa.
That same year, Lee squared off with Tony Ferguson for the interim UFC lightweight title, losing in the third round by submission.
Post-Title Fight Issues Hurt Kevin Lee
Following the defeat to Ferguson, Lee went just 2-4 inside the Octagon. He picked up a head-kick knockout of Gregor Gillespie that pushed him into a key 2020 fight with Charles Oliveira.
He also was submitted by Rafael dos Anjos and not only missed weight, but lost to Oliveira. Lee also missed weight in a 2018 win over Edson Barboza.
No Easy Return Fight On Deck
Things will not be easy for Lee this weekend as Rinat Fakhretdinov is 20-1 with 16 career wins by finish. He has picked back-to-back decisions since joining the UFC, besting Bryan Battle last December and Andreas Michailidis in his debut earlier this year.
This, though, will also be his toughest fight to date in Lee with the resume that he brings to the bout.