Eagle FC wasted little time in scooping up former UFC welterweight Kevin Lee, who parted ways with the Endeavor-owned promotion after a tumultuous few years. And the way promoter Khabib Nurmagomedov was talking at the Miami press conference, it sounds like “Motown Phenom” is being positioned as one of the top guys for 2022 and beyond.
Perhaps that’s why Lee is being paired off with fellow UFC export Diego Sanchez, who also found himself on the unemployment line after a wild and wacky 2021. But “The Nightmare” is now 40 — 11 years older than Lee — and may only be coming to Eagle FC to serve as a stepping stone for the “Motown Phenom,” among others.
That’s according to longtime referee “Big” John McCarthy.
“You know, Diego’s done a ton in the sport of MMA. And he’s had some great times, he’s had some hard times,” McCarthy said on the “Weighing In” podcast (transcribed by Sayan Nag). “I just don’t wanna see him going out with him being the guy…it was kind of that way with his last fights in the UFC. They were trying to use his name to get other guys over. You know, get that victory against the guy who is the legend of the sport, the guy that’s been there forever, the guy that won The Ultimate Fighter 1. And I don’t know, I don’t think it’s a good fight. I’ll watch it, I’m not saying I won’t. I just don’t think the matchup at this point in their careers is a fair matchup. I think Diego’s gotta get the fight down. If he gets the fight down he can definitely win the fight. Other than that he’s gonna have a hard time.”
Their bout is tentatively scheduled for March 11 in Miami.
Lee (18-7) was released from UFC after losing four of his last five and flunking a post-fight drug test. As for Sanchez (30-13), his recent loss to Jake Matthews — coupled with all of his backstage drama — led to his “sad” release earlier this year. Both fighters are expected to compete in the promotion’s newly-created 165-pound division.
Eagle FC is the new MMA promotion created in part by former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who intends to build his brand both stateside and abroad. The means to that end is developing stars that resonate with American audiences and it appears Lee has been pegged to be “that guy.”
Expect Sanchez to have something to say about that.