The lightweight title picture has been on hold for a minute now. Mostly, Conor McGregor’s saga into boxing – and whatever it is he’s doing with himself now – has left the other elite fighters in his division to try and carefully pick their battles at the top. Lest they lose their seat at the table when the UFC championship is once again on offer.
Hopefully, that time is coming to an end, and soon. With top contender Khabib Nurmagomedov expected to face interim champion Tony Ferguson for the unified belt at UFC 223 – following the theoretical stripping of McGregor. In the lead-up to the event, Nurmagomedov sat down with Megan Olivi on UFC Fight Pass’ the Exchange, to give his thoughts on the other athletes populating the elite ranks of 155.
His words for fellow top contender Kevin Lee were none too kind (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“He wants to be tough but he has very small heart,” said Nurmagomedov. “Very small heart. When he fought with Tony Ferguson, between second and third round, you guys can watch his face and understand everything. Face never lie. His eyes – when Tony Ferguson talks about, ‘This is my night!’ his face agrees with this.”
It’s just the latest barb in an ongoing war of words between the two men. Khabib made similar statements back in October of last year, telling Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour that Lee fought ‘like chicken’ against Ferguson. For his part, Lee has stated in interviews since that both Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson would likely beat the Dagestani fighter, adding that Khabib ‘looked terrible’ in his win over Edson Barboza.
Nurmagomedov has yet to suffer the first loss as a professional, heading into his April 7th headlining bout against Ferguson, where Lee’s sentiments about the matchup will be put to the test. For Lee, he’s getting ready for his own bout against Barboza, his first since losing a shot at the interim lightweight title against Ferguson in 2017. Depending on those results, who knows? Maybe these two men will finally settle their score in the cage.
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