(17-3) is a lightweight fighter who plies his trade in the
Ultimate Fighting Championship
. For his next bout, the
26-year-old contender will headline
UFC on Fox 31
opposite Al Iaquinta
at the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center, in Milwaukee on
Dec. 15. The clash is a rematch of their UFC 169 encounter, which
Lee lost by unanimous decision.
As fight day approaches, here are five things you might not know
about the man they call “The Motown Phenom.”
1. He was raised in Detroit.
Today, Kevin Lee
based in Las Vegas, where he owns a home and trains at the esteemed
Xtreme Couture gym. But the place Lee is synonymous with is
Detroit, the city where he was brought up. It was in homage to his
formative years there that he adopted the moniker, “The Motown
Phenom.” Motown, a portmanteau of motor
a nickname often given to Detroit, an automobile manufacturing
2. He was an accomplished wrestler.
During his high school days, Lee was a keen basketball player, but
it was the wrestling mat where he really stood out. Due to the
numerous wrestling techniques he mastered, his coaches and fellow
team members gave the young Lee the nickname “Toolbox.” After
graduating, Lee attended Grand Valley State University, where he
continued wrestling. While studying at the school, Lee compiled a
stellar 37-0 record as a senior and was a national tournament
qualifier. By his sophomore year, Lee, who had embarked on his
fledgling MMA career, was unable to devote as much time to the
3. He was unbeaten when the UFC signed him.
In 2012, the then 19 year-old commenced competing in professional
MMA. A little over a year and a half later, The Motown Phenom had
garnered a flawless 7-0 professional record on the regional scene.
It was at this point that the UFC stepped in and signed the young
prospect. Lee’s debut with the Las Vegas-based promotion was a
losing effort at UFC 169 against Iaquinta, the same opponent he
will face in his next outing. He would go on to win his next four
UFC fights before falling to a first round TKO against Leonardo
at UFC 194 in December 2015.
4. He used to sleep in the gym.
Lee was a university student when he started training at Triumph
MMA gym in Grand Rapids. Once his day of biomedical studies and
wrestling training was completed, Lee would make the 20-minute
cycle ride to the gym. As he was unable to afford his second-year
university dormitory fees, Lee slept at the gym. When The Motown
Phenom looks back at that testing period in his life, he remembers
the cold winter nights he spent at the gym. Because it was too
expensive to leave the heating on, Lee made do with blankets. He
once said in an interview, “I honestly never complained about it
because I loved what I was doing.”
5. He has been a champion before.
In Lee’s last contest prior to being signed by the UFC, he battled
for the TWC Lightweight Championship, in Nov. 2013. A
little over a minute after the bell had sounded, Lee caught his
rival in a standing guillotine choke, which forced Moon to tap.