Just In After he lost his love for the game, Kevin Lee found motivation in new gym, weight class MMA Life

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After suffering back-to-back losses for the first time in his pro career, Kevin Lee needed to take a step back and regroup.

Prior to his submission loss to Rafael Dos Anjos in May, “The Phenom” dropped a five-round unanimous decision to Al Iaquinta in December. The pair of defeats signified Lee’s third loss in four fights. According to Lee, the stumbles were due to slacking motivation and a lack of enjoyment in competition.

In July, the former UFC lightweight contender announced he’d be moving his camp to Tristar in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in order to train under renowned coach Firas Zahabi. The change in scenery is all part of a conserved effort by Lee (17-5 MMA, 10-5 UFC) to try to regain his love for MMA.

“I kind of took my eyes off the prize a little bit if I’m just being honest with myself,” Lee told MMA Junkie. “That’s why having (Zahabi) and having that mentor and having somebody who’s already been there and done that with and who’s been through these things and can kind of see that for me.

“Instead of just going through it and bumping my head and trying to learn on the other end. I think that’s why that’s going to be really pivotal. Me gunning for that spotlight and gunning for the shine, I focused on that a little too much and lost my love for the game. Now I’m trying to shy away from it and then fall back in love with the actual fight part of it.”

A change in camp isn’t the only aspect of Lee’s competitive life he’s shaken up. A vocal proponent of the push to implement a 165-pound weight class in the UFC, Lee will move up to welterweight for his next bout. Despite the shift in competition weight, Lee said he won’t be weighing more walking around. He’ll simply be diminishing his weight cut by 15 pounds.

“We’re welterweight now,” Lee said. “I’m about the same size that I was preparing for lightweight. But going through that last training camp and going through that last weight cut, it kind of showed me this is where I should be. This is where I’m going to perform better. The more I do it and the more experience I get doing it, I feel like I’m just going to get better at it.”

Lee doesn’t currently have a fight scheduled, but he hopes to sneak in two more by the end of 2019. The first event Lee is angling to get on? UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 2. After that, Lee said he might try to get on the UFC 245 card in Las Vegas on Dec. 14.

“I at least want to get two more out of the way,” Lee said. “We’re gunning for a big spot in Madison Square Garden in November. After that, you never know. I might try to make a quick turnaround in December here in Las Vegas, but either way it’s all about focusing on me. Getting back to the game that I love. Going out there and performing.”

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