Kevin Lee announces retirement after brief UFC comeback

Former UFC interim title challenger Kevin Lee announced his retirement from mixed martial arts via social media on Tuesday.

Lee, 30, leaves the sport with an overall professional record of 19-8. All but seven of those bouts occurred under the UFC banner, where he first signed in 2014.

"To make a long story short, I've decided to retire from MMA and the UFC," Lee said in an Instagram post. "It's been 12 years, 12 long years of me being the best fighter that I can be and a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication for me to try to be the best fighter in the world. When I look back on it, I had a hell of a career."

Originally from Detroit -- and nicknamed "Motown Phenom" -- Lee fought Tony Ferguson for the UFC's interim lightweight championship in 2017 and came up short via third-round submission. He rose to title contention due to a 9-2 start in the UFC but ultimately went 4-4 over his next eight fights. The UFC released Lee from his contract in late 2021 but re-signed him earlier this year.

Lee fought a gauntlet of top competition at lightweight, including Ferguson, Charles Oliveira, Rafael Dos Anjos, Al Iaquinta, Edson Barboza and Michael Chiesa.

Lee was an advocate for a 165-pound division, a proposal that has yet to take off in MMA, and eventually moved up to welterweight at the end of his career.

His last appearance resulted in a 55-second submission loss to Rinat Fakhretdinov at UFC Fight Night on July 1 in Las Vegas.