While he doesn’t regret anything, Kevin Lee admits he would have changed a few things early in his UFC career.

After losing four of his past five, including a fight against current UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira, Lee (18-7 MMA, 11-7 UFC) was let go by the UFC and recently signed a multifight deal with former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s Eagle FC promotion.

Lee’s journey up the rankings was not an easy one. “The Motown Phenom” never shied away from a challenge, taking on one tough stylistic matchup after the other. Although he managed to climb his way to an interim lightweight title shot, Lee eventually suffered numerous setbacks, leading to his UFC release.

Looking back, Lee thinks had he taken a different route, his record likely would have been a lot different, which is why he praises Sean O’Malley for his unwillingness to fight ranked opponents unless he gets an increase in pay. O’Malley (15-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) is one of the most popular fighters on the roster, but often has received criticism for his level of opposition.

“I’ve got to tip my hat to Sean O’Malley,” Lee said on “The Schmozone Podcast.” “He knows how to come up. He did it the right way. Honestly, I wish I would have took a couple of pages or two out of his book and had that ability to kind of pick and choose my fights and put on great performances like that. He’s doing it the right way.

“I’m not mad at him for it. I’m a little jealous, I ain’t going to lie. He doesn’t have to fight jiu-jitsu black belts and then in the next fight, fight a world-class striker and then fight a world-champion kickboxer and then fight a wrestler. He doesn’t have to do that. I’m a little jealous. But I tip my hat to him for doing that, though.”

Lee is expected to face Season 1 “Ultimate Fighter” winner and UFC Hall of Famer Diego Sanchez at an Eagle FC event on March 11 as he begins his quest to become the promotion’s inaugural 165-pound champion.


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