How Kevin Lee Turned 25 to Life Into A Title Shot



by Mike Pendleton | Chicagoland Sports Radio | a special to Cagesiders

As Kevin Lee prepares for the biggest fight inside the Octagon in his career, a journey back to his home roots will show that his lightweight interim title fight, in the main event at UFC 216 against Tony Ferguson, is just another day in the life for the “Motown Phenom”.

Growing up in Detroit, Kevin Lee (16-2; 9-2 UFC) only knew fighting. Fighting to keep himself safe, fighting to keep his family safe, and fighting to find a better life for himself and those around him. In the lead up to this fight against Ferguson, Lee has been vocal about his journey to get to this spot, a spot others around him, including his opponent, don’t feel he deserves.

With much congestion at the top of the lightweight division and a lack of willing competitors, Lee was awarded the interim title fight against Ferguson after a controversial win over Michael Chiesa earlier this year. Little did he know at the time, a post-fight interview on Fox Sports 1 would lead to a verbal confrontation with Ferguson who was working the desk that night, and in the end of a short interview, a future title fight was made.

Both guys have also been very open about the current champion, Conor McGregor and how he needs to either defend his title or vacate, and they’re bringing more interest to the division with each conversation. While McGregor will likely take over the UFC fans once he returns, Ferguson and Lee have personalities that will make either a great watch both pre-fight and in-fight against the Irish superstar.

So what would a fight against McGregor be like for Kevin Lee? Inside the Octagon it may be hard to tell right now and while UFC 216 may provide some answers, Lee’s personality and toughness doesn’t need any explanation.The man who lives with the term “25 to life” used what many connect to a prison sentence, uses it as a daily motivation to remind himself that the streets of Detroit could have snatched him up, but he’s made a different life for himself.

25 to life, as Lee describes it, is a reminder that at 25 he can be a champion, that at 25 he didn’t become a victim of his surroundings, and at 25 he can be a motivation for the younger generation coming after him, to let them know that they don’t have to be stuck in their upbringings.

Kevin Lee made it for himself growing up, getting out of a tough situation growing up in Detroit, taking all he had and moving west, ending up in Vegas and getting into the UFC. Lee then went on to make a title fight happen for himself, because at age 25, he chose to make his life, not let life make him.

The interim title fight fight between Lee and Ferguson will most certainly provided fireworks inside the Octagon and fireworks both before and after the fight, but before they lock the cage door, it’s important for all fight fans to know, Kevin Lee made the opportunity for himself.

From Detroit to Vegas, “Motown Phenom” may not have the star power of McGregor, but at just 25 years old, he’s figured it out early, and UFC 216 is just the beginning for the UFC’s newest young star.

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