Kevin Lee always wanted to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Unfortunately for “The Mo-Town Phenom,” he and the all-time great Nurmagomedov’s paths never crossed during the latter’s historic 29-0 run. Lee was cognisant of “The Eagle” when both were on the rise through the Lightweight ranks in the late 2010s. Nurmagomedov openly expressed how few ranked fighters wanted to fight him before becoming champion but the one that always did was Lee.
Had he pulled off the win over Tony Ferguson in their 2017 interim title clash, Lee likely would have gotten his wish as it was around the time when Ferguson was on a crash course that led to Nurmagomedov. In a would-be fantasy bout, Lee always knew what he’d exploit against Russia’s finest.
“There was a few times where we fought,” Lee told TSN. “Had I beaten Tony, had things been a little bit different, that would have been just a massive fight. The holes in the game thing got kind of blown out of proportion, it’s hilarious to me. I like when people do the little memes and stuff.
“I thought that his body was open,” he added. “I thought he stood very square. I thought that pressure forward style and kind of take it on the chin doesn’t lend well to shots to the body and it would have opened up eventually for a head kick or some types of kicks to the head.”
Lee has been absent from UFC’s roster since 2021 after a spell that saw him go 1-4 in five fights. He’s since rebounded with one win over UFC Hall of Famer, Diego Sanchez, by unanimous decision at Eagle FC 46 in March 2022 (watch highlights).
Lee returns to the Octagon against Rinat Fakhretdinov at UFC Vegas 76 this weekend (Sat., July 1, 2023).
“I love fighting so much,” Lee said. “I love MMA, I love breaking down different fighters and what their attributes are, what they’re capable of. And it’s not necessarily like towards the one man, but it’s interesting but it’s kind of pointless at the end of the day.
“[Nurmagomedov’s] gone and it didn’t happen so there’s no sense in focusing on the past,” he concluded.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 76 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN/ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
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