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Monday Morning Hangover: What’s next for Kevin Lee after first round loss at UFC Vegas 76?

UFC Vegas 76 went down this past weekend (Sat., July 1, 2023) inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, leaving several fighters feeling the post-fight blues. Among them was Brunno Ferreira, who was knocked out by Nursulton Ruziboev in the first round (highlights). And Abus Magomedov, who was stopped by Sean Strickland in the second round of the main event (see it again here).

But, which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now a few days removed from the show?

Kevin Lee.

Coming into his fight against Rinat Fakhretdinov, Lee was hoping for a fresh start with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in his second go-around with the promotion after a two-year hiatus. Lee was released by UFC in Nov. 2021 after going 1-4 over the course of his last five fights.

After a short-lived run with Eagle FC — a win over Diego Sanchez at Super Lightweight — “The Motown Phenom” unexpectedly got an invite to return to UFC, though his first matchup was a bit questionable. That’s because Fakhretdinov was on a 19-fight win streak, including winning his first two fights inside the Octagon. Granted, he wasn’t ranked coming into the fight, but he hadn’t tasted defeat in nearly a decade, making him a threat to anyone in front of him.

And it didn’t take long for him to prove it. From the jump, Fakhretdinov put it on “The Motown Phenom,” dropping him with a perfectly-placed strike before putting him to sleep with a guillotine choke.

Lee never knew what hit him.

Now 1-5 in his last six fights under the UFC banner, Lee’s return was a rocky one to say the least ... and there is no telling if the promotion will opt to keep him around. As stated in this article, Lee’s skills have slowly deteriorated over the last few years, that much is obvious, but the downfall is still hard to fathom for some, especially since he is just 30 years old.

Once considered a title contender who had his eyes on one of the best Lightweight fighters ever in Khabib Nurmagomedov, Lee is now a shell of his former self, sadly. He has gone through multiple major injures and taken on some of the best UFC has to offer, though big wins have always evaded him.

Whether or not UFC decides to give him another fight remains to be seen. But, in the case that he does get another opportunity to prove himself, it will be interesting to see which division he opts to fight in and who he gets paired up with.

All that said, it's safe to bet he won’t be getting matched up with a man on a 20-fight win streak.

We think.

For complete UFC Vegas 76: “Strickland vs. Magomedov” results and play-by-play, click HERE.

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