Khabib Nurmagomedov may possibly be the most dominant lightweight on the planet today, as the undefeated Russian holds a record of 24-0.
Despite his accomplishments inside the cage, he will not be a part of this weekend’s (Sat. October 7, 2017) interim UFC lightweight title fight in the main event of the UFC 216 pay-per-view (PPV). In his place will be No. 2-ranked Tony Ferguson and No. 7-ranked Kevin Lee. The winner is expected to (possibly) take on UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor to unify their titles upon the Irishman’s return to action.
Lee recently took part in a media event to promote UFC 216 and discussed Nurmagomedov’s absence from the Octagon as of late. “The Eagle” hasn’t competed since November of last year when he submitted Michael Johnson in the third round of their UFC 205 collision. He was previously scheduled to take on Ferguson for the interim lightweight title but was forced to pull out of the fight the day of weigh-ins after being hospitalized for a bad weight cut.
“The Motown Phenom” said he doesn’t believe Nurmagomedov wants to fight against a legit contender who is a threat to his undefeated record, and called his zero losses ‘imaginary’ (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“It’s weird,” Lee said. “The man don’t fight! So, what can I do? What can I do? How longs that dude been out? How long, it’s been over a year now? He doesn’t want to fight nobody, really. He doesn’t want to fight nobody that proves to be a challenge to him. He wants to hold on to that imaginary ‘0’ that he thinks he’s got.”
Lee has been calling out Nurmagomedov to fight for the past several months, however, now with the possibility of competing against McGregor lingering around he’ll have to see how the chips fall into place:
“I said I’d take [Nurmagomedov] on in December, Dec. 2, but I don’t know,” Lee said. “Now Conor’s saying that saying he might come back earlier, so, we’ll see. We’ll see how this one shakes up after. I’m interested in that, I’m interested in taking on Tony, and then fighting Khabib in December, and then defending the title against Conor, but we’ll see how things shake out.”
“He’s got a whole country behind him,” Lee said. “He’s got all of Russia. The man don’t even have to fight and somehow he’s still keeping himself in the media.”