While current UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor has been cashing out inside of the boxing ring, the rest of the players at 155 pounds have been jockeying for title position. Top contenders like Tony Ferguson, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Justin Gaethje have risen to the top in the absence of “Notorious.”
In addition to those lightweight standouts, rising superstar Kevin Lee has also shined amidst an impressive five-fight win streak. His efforts have landed him in an interim lightweight title fight opposite Ferguson later tonight (Sat., Oct. 7, 2017) at UFC 216 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
With McGregor out and Nurmagomedov unable to stay healthy, the door has opened for “Motown Phenom” and the kid has really ran with it. Not only did Lee end Francisco Trinaldo’s seven-fight win streak with a sizzling submission on hostile Brazilian soil, but the 25-year-old also became just the second fighter to tap grappling wizard Michael Chiesa. Add in a dominant submission win over explosive Russian Magomed Mustafaev and a knockout performance over rising prospect Jake Matthews, and it’s easy to see why the promotion was so quick to push Lee into the PPV limelight.
But despite his past accolades and meteoric rise in one of the UFC’s most jam-packed divisions, the slate will be wiped clean later this evening at UFC 216. When Lee steps inside of the Octagon opposite “El Cucuy” everything he has done up until this point won’t really matter. Ferguson is easily the toughest opponent Lee has ever encountered in his career so “Motown Phenom” is going to have to elevate his game beyond his past performances to escape Las Vegas with the interim strap.
That said, Ferguson is not indestructible. He often eats punches to land punches so Lee will have his opportunity to catch the veteran off guard, utilize his elite athleticism, lean on his strong wrestling game, and try to launch himself into further stardom with a win.
Considering few fighters have won a UFC title at the age of 25, fight fans should keep a close eye on Lee later tonight to see how he performs in the spotlight.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 216 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FX at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.