5 Things You Might Not Know About Kevin Lee

By Guy Portman Dec 12, 2018

Kevin Lee (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 is 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 and town, is a nickname often given to Detroit, an automobile manufacturing powerhouse.

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 wrestling team.

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 Santos 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 Eric Moon 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.


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