It’s been a rough road for “The Motown Phenom” over the past few years. After going 9-2 at the start of his UFC career, Lee has gone 3-6 over his last nine bouts, with his last fight a dreadful 55-second loss to rising powerhouse, Rinat Fakhretdinov, earlier this month. Worse still: the fight was his big UFC comeback bout after two years away from the promotion.
Several people, Lee included, had high hopes that the match would mark the beginning of a big comeback. Instead, he got choked unconscious in the first round (watch the scary finish here). Now, Lee has semi-announced his retirement on Meta’s new social media platform, Threads.
“I’m going to retire from the UFC, but I can’t find the right words to use in the video,” Lee wrote. “There’s more to life than fighting.”
Lee truly was a phenom when he first got started. His athleticism and speed helped him cut a swath through the Lightweight division, but he struggled to make the 156-pound weight limit. After moving up to Welterweight, he lost a tough decision to Daniel Rodriguez and then tested positive for Adderall, earning himself a six-month suspension.
Lee would return in Eagle FC, where he beat Diego Sanchez in a fight that was much tougher for him than many expected it should be (watch highlights). It still earned him a ticket back to the big show, but now it seems clear that he no longer has the ability to hang with the sharks at 170 pounds.
There’s many things you can point to as to what happened with his career. Lee suffered multiple knee injuries, which took their toll. He was always stuck in a tough spot size-wise: too big for Lightweight, but too small for Welterweight. He also suffered the loss of his head coach and mentor, Robert Follis, to suicide. Any one of these issues could derail a fighter. For someone to deal with all three? That’s beyond tough.
If Lee does follow through with retirement plans, he leaves the sport with a 19-8 record (11-8 UFC).