Lee 'pissed, a little bit embarrassed' after UFC release
Kevin Lee isn't happy with the way the UFC went about releasing him from the roster.
The former interim lightweight challenger had been in the UFC since 2014 but was informed on Tuesday, Nov. 30, via email that the promotion had decided to terminate his contract. The letter, sent by a lower member of the UFC brass, was dated Nov. 17.
Lee said he would have appreciated a phone call and chalked it up to a "lack of respect."
"First, I was shocked a little bit. I didn't really understand what was going on ... Pissed, a little bit embarrassed, and it really don't make much sense to me," Lee told Ariel Helwani on "The MMA Hour" Wednesday.
The 29-year-old exits the UFC following a 1-4 stretch, including back-to-back losses to current lightweight champion Charles Oliveira and welterweight prospect Daniel Rodriguez.
Lee is also currently serving a six-month suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission after testing positive for the amphetamine Adderall, which he uses to treat ADHD.
However, "The Motown Phenom" believes there's more to his UFC release than it seems.
"Once that last fight (against Rodriguez) was over and (UFC president) Dana (White) was kind of talking bad on me, I had a feeling like something else was going on, you know," Lee said.
"I don't think (my release) necessarily had to do with the fight. Of course, that's what they're going to tell me, you know, I'm on a two-fight losing streak, or whatever. ... But I think there was more politics and stuff going on behind the scenes and I got caught in the middle of that."
Lee is represented by Creative Artists Agency, a direct competitor of UFC's parent company, Endeavor. His manager, Marquel Martin, also works with heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, who had a heated social media exchange with White in the past.
Lee suspects the UFC wanted to part ways with him sooner but used his two-fight skid as the reason for his release.
"The timing was just off and they were waiting for the right moment, and I kind of gave it to them by losing that last fight, and they took it and they ran with it," Lee said. "They have other agendas, and you always meet that agenda at some point."
Lee was also frustrated that the UFC waited over three months since his last fight to release him, calling it "kind of a dick move."
"A lot of people (are) telling me not to bash them and keep the bridge open, right?" Lee said. "(The UFC is) even telling me that - 'OK, yeah, you can come back at some point.' I don't really want to. Why would I want to work with somebody who is going to disrespect me like this? That's crazy."
Lee said he has already received offers from three promotions - including Triller Fight Club - and plans to sign the most lucrative deal. He says he expects to make significantly more money outside the UFC, adding that he'll compete at welterweight moving forward.
"At this point, it's all about prizefighting," Lee said. "And then we'll go after championships."