Interview: Kevin Lee talks about fighting Tony Ferguson, calls out Conor McGregor, more
History beckons Demetrious Johnson, as the UFC Flyweight Champion is a few days away from cementing his legacy. What was supposed to happen at UFC 215 will now unfold at UFC 216, but unfortunately, DJ’s record-breaking title defence will not go on last.Instead, Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee will face each other for the interim lightweight title.
With Conor McGregor chasing history, Tony and Kevin find themselves ahead of the pack. While Ferguson was originally scheduled to face Khabib Nurmagomedov for the interim title, Khabib’s issues with weight cuts enabled Kevin to jump the queue.
There is something ostensibly different as Lee is currently ranked at number seven in the division. However, with Eddie Alvarez slated to face Justin Gaethje at a later date, and Khabib temporarily out of the picture, Kevin Lee can make the most of his opportunity next weekend.
I caught up with The Motown Phenom earlier today during the UFC 216 media conference call and asked him a few questions.
Obviously, Kevin, this is a massive opportunity for you. While Tony has gone all five rounds before, this will be your first. Tony also showed excellent range control, was dominant in clinches and dealt with the takedown threats in his last fight. How do you analyse your next opponent?
Kevin Lee: I’m going to beat Tony bell to whistle, that’s what it is about. Tony, I mean — the man is already over the hill. He’s 33, and he’s talking about what he is going to do in the next 12 months. I mean, it’s going to be whatever after this fight. They don’t really know my name; I said it, people are shocked, people are confused as to why I’m getting this title (shot), why I’m doing this, why I’m doing that.
I said it months ago, and I’m going to say it again. I feel like I’m the real king of this (expletive). I’m just 25, I’m just getting started. I keep getting better, he keeps getting worse. So it doesn’t matter; when you look at our skills, and you could see it during the open workouts, you can see that I’m going to walk over him.
Tony Ferguson: Keep talking, kid.
Kevin Lee: It ain’t no ‘keep talking’. It ain’t no ‘keep talking’. I’m going to show you. Look, I gave you the chance to say what you’re going to say, to do your thing.
Tony Ferguson: The only thing I’m going to see is you on a gurney, Kevin Lee. You’re locked; you (expletive) yourself, brother. That’s what you did. You are messed up, you keep talking sh*t, and you want to bring family into it. I’m not a punk-a** Chiesa. You’re dealing with a (expletive) real Mexican now.
Kevin Lee: Yeah sure, I didn’t say anything. You’re the one that keeps talking sh*t, so go ahead and keep doing it.
Listen, bottom line, folks say I’m talking, but at the end of the day, I fought 4 times in the last 12 months. I’m taking this fight. Nobody else wanted this fight.
Tony Ferguson: You lose in the tournament bracket, and you had to fight your way back. You got knocked out, and you had to fight your way back. It’s cool, man. Enjoy those wins that you had, because it’s going to end.
Kevin Lee: Yeah, sure. Let’s be real. You fought a bunch of b**ches - RDA was whopping your a**, and he b**ched out in the second round. Edson Barboza was whopping your a** before he b**ched out. You fought a bunch of b**ches that you walked down, and with me, that isn’t going to happen.
Tony Ferguson: You’re going to be my next b**ch. Speaking of juice, are you off the juice?
You now have the chance to cement yourself as the top lightweight in the UFC. You’ve obviously understood the value in marketing yourself as well. What are your thoughts on being able to talk to rising up the ranks, along with the ability to fight inside the cage?
Kevin Lee: Yeah, I mean, that’s what it has been. Like I said, I’ve been treating my last couple of fights like title fights. If you see my opponents, they haven’t got a lot of fights, but these are some of the toughest dudes. You look around, and who would want to fight the Russian kid (Magomed Mustafaev)? Who would want to fight Francisco Trinaldo? No one wants to fight that dude. I’m going down there and I’ve been taking the tough fights, and I’m preparing for them like a championship fight anyway.
So as far as I’m concerned, people don’t — people keep asking me sh*t about McGregor. If anything, he can work his way up to me. As far as I’m concerned, the man has one fight in this division, and that was against Eddie Alvarez. Eddie ran like a little b**ch too, so I don’t give much respect to that (win).
So if he wants to take a tune-up fight, if he wants to fight Nate Diaz next, he can go ahead and do what he wants to do. Make your money, and I’ll make mine. I am not worried about it.