Kevin Lee believes the UFC won’t risk matching him up with Conor McGregor.
“The Motown Phenom” shut down naysayers with his explosive performance at UFC 244. Lee eradicated Gregor Gillespie’s undefeated record by landing a KO head kick in round one.
After rebounding from his two previous losses against Rafael Dos Anjos and Al Iaquinta, Lee is mulling over his next fight options. One of those possibilities is MMA superstar Conor McGregor. However, Lee believes his formidable skillset and wrestling will be held against him in this case.
“They’re still trying to find an opponent for Conor McGregor on Jan. 18,” Lee said to MMA Fighting. “I know they’re talking about ‘Cowboy’ [Donald Cerrone], but there’s no contract signed there. If he’s a little bit like me, if he’s a competitor at his heart, then he’s going to want to take on the tough wrestler. He should if he wants to get back to Khabib [Nurmagomedov] and really wants to get back into title contention. That fight would make sense.
“[Fighting me] It’s not going to happen. I’ll be real. It’s not going to happen. They’re not going to let me within 10 feet of that man, but these are the things that I kind of see.”
The Irishman has taken some time out of the Octagon since his 2018 fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov. Nurmagomedov put his grappling capabilities on full display, eventually submitting McGregor in round four via neck-crank.
McGregor recently announced plans for an Octagon return on January 18th. There is speculation that he will be facing Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, but the UFC still hasn’t confirmed an opponent.
While Donald Cerrone has earned his stripes, Kevin Lee believes McGregor wants to ease into a fight where the odds are in his favour instead of challenging the upper echelons of the lightweight division. Especially if the opponent’s fighting style echoes the challenges McGregor faced against Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“I think a lot of real fans will see that and know that,” Lee explained. “I don’t think he’s willing to do what I’ll do. I don’t think he’s willing to take on the guy who’s on the up and up. You’ve got your back up against the wall, and he’s trying to make a name off of you. I think they’re going to avoid those types of fights.
“I think they’ll avoid me, they’ll avoid [Justin] Gaethje, [and] they’re going to avoid some of these other guys who can really give him a challenge.”
Due to the notoriety of Conor McGregor, his January return is guaranteed to be a moneymaker. However, Lee is more concerned with rising through the ranks than building his bank balance.
“I’ve got one fight left on my contract,” he said.
“If that’s the fight, I’ll take it at the money I’m at right now, to be honest with you. I think it would be way bigger than him versus Cowboy. But that ain’t for me to say. If they call me, I’m all ears.”
“A fight here in Vegas, me and [Paul] Felder, me and [Justin] Gaethje, me and [Anthony] Pettis,” Lee said in regards to other possible opponents. “Somebody who’s going to have some skill and put on a good fight to move me closer to that title.”
Who would you like to see Kevin Lee fight next? Let us know in the comments below.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 11/13/2019.