The stage was set for Kevin Lee to begin his comeback at UFC Vegas 76 on June 1st, 2023 but it all fell apart when he was choked out inside the first minute of the very first round. Lee is an MMA veteran with an incredibly long combat sports career, starting out with an extensive background in wrestling before he turned professional back in 2012. He won his first 7 fights in a row before getting called up to the UFC in 2013 and other than his debut fight against Al Iaquinta, he started out very promisingly.
Lee went 9-1 over his next 10 fights and earned the biggest opportunity of his career when he fought Tony Ferguson for the UFC interim lightweight world championship. That loss against Ferguson marked the beginning of a rough patch in Lee’s MMA career as he went 2-4 after it, bringing his professional record to 18-7. This was when the UFC decided to part ways with Lee and he was released at the end of 2021 after 8 years with the promotion. Lee signed a four-fight contract with Eagle FC and at that point it looked as though he would be seeing out his career on the regional MMA circuit with smaller promotions.
Kevin Lee only actually had one fight where he won a decision over Diego Sanchez, and the UFC decided to re-sign him for a comeback to the highest level. He was booked to compete against Rinat Fakhretdinov, a top Russian competitor with an impressive 21-2 professional record before he met Lee. The comeback didn’t last long at all, as Fakhretdinov won the early striking exchanges and dropped Lee before pouncing on a guillotine choke. Lee tried to counter by taking his opponent down but there was nothing he could do, and he was put to sleep after just 55 seconds of total action.
The footage of Kevin Lee getting choked out by Rinat Fakhretdinov in the first minute of their fight at UFC Vegas 76 was uploaded to the official Twitter account of ESPN MMA:
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 1, 2023