After devastating return at UFC Vegas 76, what’s next for Kevin Lee?

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Brasilia
Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

This past Saturday night at UFC Vegas 76, we saw the return of a former title challenger in the lightweight division. “The Motown Phenom” Kevin Lee (19-8) was back inside the octagon and he had a very tall order in front of him in Rinat Fakhretdinov (22-2).

Fakhretdinov had won sixteen fights in a row while Kevin Lee was just 2-4 in his last six leading into Saturday night. I did have some high expectations for Lee entering Saturday. He’s still on 30-years-old and had shown so much promise early on in his UFC career.

After a brief hiatus, I thought he was going to come ready to dish out a big time performance upon his return. However, his return ended quickly and in devastating fashion. Just a little more than 30 seconds into the first round, Lee was dropped with a massive right hand from Fakhretdinov.

Fakhretdinov quickly jumped on nasty front-side guillotine and started squeezing as Lee went for his legs. There wasn’t much movement from Lee and he was choked out completely by Fakhretdinov at the 55 second mark of the first round at UFC Vegas 76.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 76?

As far as returns go, it doesn’t get much worse than this. The fall of Kevin Lee has been a steep one. When he was 24-years-old, Lee was 9-2 in the UFC and he was challenging Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight championship.

Starting with that fight, he’s gone just 3-6 in his next nine while dealing with several big injuries including tearing his knee in his fight against Diego Sanchez in Eagle FC. With this horrible return in the books, what should the UFC do with Lee next?

While he is only 30, I think they should give him a fight they’d give an older veteran who they aren’t going to just get rid of even after a terrible stretch like Lee’s had. In looking at the division, perhaps a fight against someone like Court McGee makes sense.

Matt Brown could also be a name that could draw some interest assuming Lee stays at welterweight where he is 0-3 lifetime inside the octagon. Another name to watch is Bryan Battle who also lost to Fakhretdinov. Of course, that seems like it would be more of a fight for the UFC to continue to build Battle instead of trying to revive Kevin Lee’s career.