Former UFC interim lightweight title challenger Kevin Lee is ready to make his return to the octagon at UFC 264 against Sean Brady, but he already has bigger plans in mind for the future and plans on making a run at the welterweight belt.

Lee has been out of competition for a little more than a year since his last loss at lightweight against current champion Charles Oliveira at UFC Fight Night 170. Before that, he had lost two of his previous three fights with the sole win coming against Gregor Gillespie at UFC 244.

In a recent interview with “The Schmo“, Lee talked about his pre-meditated success at welterweight and a potential title run in the division. He also specifically mentioned Kamaru Usman’s recent knockout win over Jorge Masvidal as a big source of his newfound motivation.

“Kamaru and I have locked eyes before, and I feel like that’s a match that needs to be made eventually,” Lee said. “But for this one, I’m taking Sean Brady’s spot. He’s top 15, but he hasn’t fought anybody yet. He’s still young in his career. I mean, we’re the same age, but I’ve kind of done everything that he’s done twice almost.”

“After (Usman) beat Masvidal the way that he beat him, I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s me. I’m big too.’ This is the first time that I’ve ever lifted, really ever since college, so it’s been over 10 years since I’ve really lifted weights. But to come back off the knee surgeries, I’ve been doing a lot of weight lifting, and I’m moving around middleweights and stuff, so I’m ready.”

Lee makes his return to welterweight after a series of weight-cutting issues during his time-fighting at lightweight. His fight against Brady on a big stage at UFC 264 is a massive opportunity for Lee to get back in the title hunt after an up-and-down string of fights.

Lee now trains at Firas Zahabi‘s Tristar Gym in Montreal, which he has largely credited for a massive transformation in his MMA game. Lee will surely make a stacked welterweight division that much more interesting especially if he’s able to get back to his earlier winning ways.

Do you think Kevin Lee and Kamaru Usman could fight in the future?

Curtis Calhoun is a Combat Sports Contributor based in Seattle, Washington. After a longtime dream of becoming a sports journalist, he was able to accomplish his goals upon graduating from Washington State University in 2016.