Exclusive: Kevin Lee Believes Khabib May Hold a ‘Grudge’ Against Him; ‘We Need to Have a Conversation’

Kevin Lee spoke with Middle Easy in an exclusive interview to discuss his Eagle FC contract and possible tension between himself and Khabib Nurmagomedov

Kevin Lee
Courtesy of @khabib_nurmagomedov on Instagram

Former UFC competitor ‘Motown Phenom’ Kevin Lee was once considered a potential breakout star of the lightweight division. Entering the promotion in 2014, Lee had an impressive run, going 10-3 until hitting a skid that saw him dropping four of his last five bouts inside the Octagon before exiting the promotion in 2021. Shortly after, Kevin Lee signed with Eagle FC, the promotion owned by former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov

Lee debuted under the Eagle FC banner in March, defeating another former UFC star, Diego Sanchez, in his first outing. Since then, little has been heard about Lee or Eagle FC for that matter. In a Middle Easy exclusive interview, James Lynch spoke to Lee to discuss his contract with Eagle FC and what his future could hold outside of the organization.

“It was an exclusive agreement, but it’s getting to the point where I might step outside of it. I don’t know. Honestly, that’s not really for me to answer. That’s gonna be more on my management to answer and I’m going through a change of management right now too so that’s going to be more questions down the line.” 

In a since-deleted tweet, Lee called out Eagle FC owner Khabib Nurmagomedov, asking the UFC Hall of Famer if he would be “more comfortable talking publicly?” The tweet immediately sparked the curiosity of fans. When James Lynch asked for clarification on the tweet, Lee said:

“Me and Khabib need to talk. Me and Khabib need to talk. We need to have a conversation. We need to really sit down as men and talk. I do feel like he still… He maybe holds a grudge or he’s got something going on against me. I think he’s coming off the big win with Islam. That was a huge win and I’m never one to make anything about me so I’m giving them the time and space they need to celebrate it, go on to the next one.

“They got a big fight coming up to see if he’s going to be pound-for-pound number one. All that good sh*t so I’m not not a team player, you know what I’m saying? So, yeah. We’ll need to have a talk, but it’ll come in due time.”

Kevin Lee Discusses the Absence of Eagle FC Events

Despite receiving a significant amount of hype for bringing his Eagle FC promotion to the United States, Khabib and the company has not run a single event stateside since May of this year. That event featured a heavyweight main event between former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos and Yorgan De Castro. Asked if he believes the lack of events has been due to Khabib’s time working with Islam Makhachev ahead of UFC 280, Kevin Lee suggested it’s a possibility, but that is just his assumption.

“Yeah, but again that’s an assumption. Even on that part, I’m on the outside looking in. I don’t try and tell people how to do their business. I do feel like it could be run a lot smoother. I feel like there could be more done. At this point I’m just a fighter. I’m just looking to fight and how we handle the promotion and all that, I’m gonna leave that up to them.”

Speaking of Islam Makhachev and UFC 280, ‘Motown Phenom’ shared his thoughts on Makhachev’s big UFC 280 title win over former champion Charles Oliveira in October. 

“That was a great fight. I think they set that fight up perfectly. I think having Charles go to the Middle East to do that fight was a genius move and I feel like he exceeded all expectations. He did way better in the grappling than I expected. He looked a whole lot stronger out there. Charles looked off and he looked upset at the result”

Next up for Islam Makhachev is a champion vs. champion showdown with UFC featherweight titleholder and No. 1 ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Alexander Volkanovski. The two will clash in the UFC 284 main event this February when the promotion returns to Australia. 

“I think Islam has the edge in that,” said Lee. “I’m gonna go with everybody else on that and say that yeah, I think he’ll have the edge, not only in the size and the strength but in his technique too. On the ground, I don’t think Alex has really been tested like that and tested like Islam will test him.”

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