While champion Conor McGregor is off making the biggest payday of his career facing Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a boxing match, lightweight contender Kevin Lee will take on No. 2 ranked Tony Ferguson for the interim 155-pound title at UFC 216 on Oct. 7 in Las Vegas.
Following Lee’s last win over Michael Chiesa in June, he was interviewed by Ferguson during the UFC Fight Night 112 Post Show on FS1 and the two got into a heated exchange.
“Me and Tony, we knew each other before. We came from the same college. He was an alumni. He came out a year before I came in. When I was wrestling in college he was going through The Ultimate Fighter, and I kind of supported him a little bit. I kind of looked up. He’s been a fan of mine ever since, so for him to like downplay me a little bit by saying that Chiesa slammed me or whatever he was saying, it didn’t even make sense. It didn’t even seem like he watched the fight,” Lee told the UFC Unfiltered podcast about the on air exchange of words.
“I just let him know. What the (expletive) is he talking about, so I just gave it right back to him.”
The back-and-forth between the two may very well have landed Lee the interim title fight, but that wasn’t what he was trying to do. And he doesn’t think Ferguson is smart enough have planned the verbal altercation.
“Tony ain’t that smart. I mean, look at him. If they would of let him wear sunglasses and headphones while doing that interview, he would have. The deal is, he ain’t that smart to be thinking ahead,” he said. “I can’t give Tony that much credit.”
Some fighters dream of becoming a champion. The fans recognize whomever has the belt around his waist and the fight promotion can promote a fight easier if it’s for a title. Lee doesn’t care about “little gold belts,” but he’s excited to face Ferguson.
“I really don’t give a damn about the title. I really don’t give a damn about those little gold belts. They don’t really mean (expletive). This fight gets me up a little bit and it wakes me up every morning and gets me ready to train even harder because I’m going to beat the (expletive) out of him,” said Lee.
“At the end of the day, I took this fight. I didn’t even renegotiate my contract before I took this fight. I just went ahead and said, ‘yeah, I’ll get it in right here, right now.’ For me, that’s like the fun part,” he added. “I’m after a whole bunch of money and a whole bunch of face punching.”
While Lee predicts that he’ll walk away with the interim title at UFC 216, he believes Ferguson is the toughest fight in the lightweight division.
“Tony can take a hell of a shot. When you watch his fights, Tony is a (expletive) dog. Tony is the hardest fight in this division. That’s why I was pushing for the Khabib (Nurmagomedov) fight because it’s the most amount of money for the least fight. At the end of the day, I’m a competitor. This is what I do, and Tony, to me, he’s always been the No. 1 contender and this is for the real championship.”