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Lightweight Kevin Lee, 30, agrees to exclusive deal with UFC

By Brett Okamoto,


Kevin Lee is heading back to the UFC, the former lightweight title challenger told ESPN on Monday.

Lee, 30, says he has agreed to an exclusive deal with the UFC, a little more than one year after the promotion released him of his contract. Lee has not booked his return to the Octagon, but expects it to happen this spring.

"I met with [president] Dana White and [chief business officer] Hunter Campbell, and I feel like I'm going back home," Lee told ESPN in a statement. "I'm grateful for them welcoming me back and looking forward to the next chapter of my career."

Lee (19-7) fought Tony Ferguson for the UFC's interim lightweight championship in October 2017, where he came up short via third-round submission. The loss sparked a 2-5 run, which culminated in his release from the company in late 2021.

Lee expressed frustration with the UFC at the time of his release, but has since mended the relationship. He also sought a new management team earlier this year, signing with notable manager Ali Abdelaziz and Dominance MMA.

Originally from Detroit now fighting out of Florida, Lee fought once in 2022. He defeated Diego Sanchez via unanimous decision in Eagle FC, a promotion operated by retired MMA legend Khabib Nurmagomedov. During an interview with ESPN earlier this year, Lee expressed interest in possibly signing with PFL, but has opted to return to the UFC instead.

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