At UFC 216, Tony Ferguson will look to build on his incredible nine fight win streak when he faces off against rising star Kevin Lee with the winner being crowned as interim lightweight champion.
While Ferguson’s status as a top lightweight contender was never in question, Lee remained an interesting choice considering he had only just recently climbed into the rankings following wins over notable names such as Michael Chiesa and Francisco Trinaldo.
The other reason the UFC 216 main event was questioned so heavily was due to undefeated Russian wrecking machine Khabib Nurmagomedov still looming large over the division despite dropping out of his previously scheduled bout against Ferguson due to his struggles to make weight.
Well according to UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby, the organization still had plans to match up Nurmagomedov against Ferguson as part of the star-studded UFC 217 card in New York, but it turns out the opportunity was declined, which is why the offer was then made to Lee instead.
“Just to clear things up, a fight was offered to [Khabib] Nurmagomedov Nov. 4 and at that point we were trying to put cards together towards the end of the year, I was informed that he could not make that date and he probably wouldn’t be able to fight until at least December,” Shelby said on “The Watch List” ahead of UFC 216. “That left Tony without a dance partner and it’s not just about one guy, it’s about two guys.
“So we backed Tony up and Kevin Lee was there and I mean look at his resume as of late. He’s a phenomenal fighter, he’s doing fantastic. Right now, I think he’s the hottest thing in the division.”
Lee has certainly become one of the most talked about fighters in the UFC in recent months, especially after he backed up a bold prediction by making short work of former “Ultimate Fighter” winner Michael Chiesa inside one round.
Now Lee will have the opportunity to prove himself even further as he looks to stop Ferguson’s win streak and add a UFC title to his growing resume of accomplishments.