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Coach: Kevin Lee too busy complaining about APEX, poking holes in Khabib to win UFC comeback

Former UFC lightweight title contender, Kevin Lee, was given a second chance to start another run with the world’s preeminent MMA promotion, rejoining the welterweight roster after setting sail back in late 2021. But prior to his comeback fight against the formidable Rinat Fakhretdinov at UFC Vegas 76, the 30 year-old Lee spent an inordinate amount of time focused on minor grievances.

Not only did “Motown Phenom” make a case against UFC for staging fights at the smaller, fan-unfriendly APEX facility, the location of his Octagon return, he also spent time talking about former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who retired from combat sports in the second half of 2020.

Those were “warning signs,” according to Nurmagomedov’s former coach, Javier Mendez.

“For me, some of the warning signs for me where Kevin was talking about, ‘I’m beyond these little shows at the APEX’, his attitude, to me it’s like your focus should’ve been on winning over your opponent,” Mendez said on his official podcast (transcribed by MMA News). “Other comments were about Khabib, ‘I saw holes in his game.’ You should’ve been focused more on your fight and forget anybody else, forget anybody in particular, just focus on yours because everybody was dying to see what you could do. It should have never came up, [just] soley focus on the job at hand. A lot of fighters need to focus on the person they’re fighting, especially when you know you have a really tough opponent.”

Lee (19-8) was choked unconscious in less that a minute of the very first round.

“In my opinion, he got caught,” Mendez continued. “Was it because he wasn’t focused enough on his opponent or he overlooked his opponent? I don’t know. I have no idea. I just know that what he was doing, he shouldn’t have been doing. It should have never came up about not fighting at the APEX. He should have been solely focused on his job at hand to beat a really, really tough opponent.”

Lee has been silent on social media following the loss, part of a dreadful 3-6 run dating back to late 2017. The promotion is expected to book him for another fight at some point later this year and it would not be surprising to see the “Motown Phenom” back at APEX, simply based on his recent performances.

Time will tell.

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