Lightweight contender Kevin Lee faces Tony Ferguson for the interim 155-pound title at UFC 216 on Oct. 7 in Las Vegas. The fight promotion created an interim title bout because champion Conor McGregor is trying his hand at boxing on Saturday against unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr. in what’s being billed as the biggest fight in combat sports history.
McGregor won the lightweight title by finishing Eddie Alvarez in the UFC 205 main event in November. It was McGregor’s UFC lightweight debut. The second-round finish of Alvarez etched McGregor’s name in the history books. When he defeated Alvarez, McGregor held the featherweight world title and became the first fighter in UFC history to hold two belts at the same time.
“The Notorious” was later stripped of the 145-pound belt due to inactivity in the division before defending the title a single time. He hasn’t defended his lightweight belt either. Lee considers the Irishman a ‘paper champion’ who won’t hold the belt for very long.
“Conor is a paper champion. We already know that. He’s got one fight at 155 and walks around calling himself the champion. It doesn’t make any sense. Tony Ferguson, he’s got 12 fights. I’ve got 10, all at lightweight.
“He’s down there in the baby-boy division. He did his thing. He wrecked things there, but it’s a different type of ball game up here. To me, he ain’t really the champ anyway,” Lee said while appearing on the UFC Unfiltered podcast.
McGregor stands to make more money than any mixed martial artist ever has for a fight when he faces Mayweather on Saturday. Some question whether “The Notorious” will return to the cage after cashing in like he’s going to in the ring. Lee believes McGregor will return to the Octagon no matter what happens against Mayweather.
“I kind of see him coming back probably next July for that big July card and we unify the titles there,” he said.