UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is learning that once you become the titleholder, you have a target on your back.
Top contender Kevin Lee stated in a recent interview with MMA Junkie that he was ready to fight Nurmagomedov on short-notice once it was revealed that Tony Ferguson was out of the fight.
It’s been documented that the main event of the UFC 223 pay-per-view event went through three official changes. The UFC attempted to book Nurmagomedov against Max Holloway as well in the main event for the lightweight title.
However, Holloway and Ferguson weren’t able to make the fight due to weight cutting issues or injury. Thus, they got Al Iaquinta to step in on short notice to take on the undefeated champ in the headliner. As many believed would happen, it did and Khabib ended up winning the fight along with the undisputed UFC lightweight title.
“The only reason I think they didn’t offer me that fight is because they knew hands down, before they even said it, I would have said, ‘Yes, I’m on my way,’ Lee told reporters in Las Vegas. “I weighed lower than Max (Holloway) did when they offered Max the fight.
“I think that would have been the fight to make, but it’s all in good time.”
Lee is expected to face Edson Barboza at the upcoming UFC Fight Night 128 event, which takes place on April 21, 2018, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Although he has his next fight lined up, he wants a crack at Khabib.
“I want that Khabib fight. I’ve been calling for it for a long time. I feel like I’m going to get a better version of Edson Barboza that fought Khabib a couple months ago. I’m going to whoop this boy even worse then Khabib did, and then from there we can make a fight happen.”
“He was trying the same takedown over and over again,” Lee said of Nurmagomedov. “The man don’t have a lot of variety in his game. He’s the same as who beat (Rafael) dos Anjos a few years ago. He’s that exact same fighter. I think once you stop evolving in this game then guys like me are going to catch up to you.
“Once I get my hands on him that’s really going to show. There was a little bit of frustration watching that fight because I wanted to be the one to expose those holes and I want to be the one to give him that one on his record. But as soon as that fight’s over I got back on what I got to do and that’s go out there and whooping on Edson.”