MIAMI – Kevin Lee was victorious against Diego Sanchez at Eagle FC 46, although the fight appeared to be more competitive than most people expected between a 29 and 40-year-old. But there’s a reason for that.

Lee (19-7), who won a clean-sweep unanimous decision Friday night at the FLXCast Arena, said afterward that he immediately was forced to overcome adversity when he suffered a knee injury that he believes to be serious.

“The first kick that he threw blew out my ACL or something,” Lee, who’s had major surgery on both knees before, told reporters. “That could’ve broke my focus. Two years ago, it would’ve broke my focus for sure. I’d have been thinking about that the whole time. Even though it crept up, I was able to put it on the back burner and get the job done. So I’m proud of that.”

Fighting at super lightweight (165 pounds) for the first time, a division he called for during his UFC tenure, Lee said “I felt better than I ever have. At no point was I breathing hard. I could see all the shots coming, and I felt real strong when I grabbed him.”

He continued, “I relied on my grappling a little bit. Wasn’t really expecting that this fight. Was working the jab, and the left hook was getting through. Just the right hand wasn’t able to get through.”

Lee’s win over Sanchez (30-14) marked his first fight since he was released from the UFC this past December after a seven-year tenure. Would he have preferred a more definitive win over Sanchez? Sure.

But Lee, who said he wants to fight for a 165-pound title belt next time out, saw positives in snapping a two-fight skid.

“I feel like this put me on the right track to getting that championship like I wanted,” Lee said. “Mentally, the things that I had to overcome in there, it reaffirmed what I knew. You don’t really know until you get in there with these fights and see when you’re tested like that, see when you are injured, if you can keep going through. And I feel like I overcame that adversity.

“Me a year ago or two years ago or the me that fought Tony Ferguson for the UFC title wouldn’t have been able to push through in that way. So, I’m happy that I’m finally at this level.”

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