UFC News: Kevin Lee promises to become "World Champion"
What's the story?
'The Motown Phenom' Kevin Lee isn't finished as a UFC title contender just yet.
The UFC lightweight contender was left disappointed after his tilt at the UFC interim lightweight title fell short after a nightmare week at UFC 216 in Las Vegas.
But 'The Motown Phenom' has vowed to return and claim championship gold.
In case you didn't know...
The Detroit-born fighter, who now lives and trains in Las Vegas, Nevada, took on Tony Ferguson for the interim UFC lightweight championship of the world at UFC 216 in Vegas earlier this month.
But after contracting a staph infection (MRSA) during the build-up, Lee suffered complications during his weight cut that initially saw him miss weight on his first attempt.
But Nevada State Athletic Commission rules allowed the 25-year-old another hour to lose the extra weight and Lee eventually returned to the scale to dip under the 155lb championship limit.
However, the tough weight cut, combined with the draining effects of having the staph infection - which could clearly be seen on Lee's chest on fight night - meant his gas tank was noticeably empty after the opening round.
Lee actually started well and dominated the exchanges for much of the first round as he made an encouraging start to the title fight.
But he slowed badly in the second round and eventually succumbed to a triangle choke submission as Ferguson claimed the stoppage victory in the third round of the contest.
Lee was distraught after the fight and suggested after his loss that he might have to move up in weight. He also advocated for the introduction of a new 165lb weight class in the UFC.
The heart of the matter
But now it seems Lee is back on track and ready for another run at UFC championship gold.
Speaking to his fans via his Instagram page, Lee vowed to capture a UFC world title in the near future.
"I don't do too many of these, but I did want to say that I appreciate all of you rocking with me since the fight. A lot of people are hitting me up, sent me messages, reached out. I ain't been able to reach back and hit (up) too many people.
So if you have reached back out to me since these last couple of weeks I've just been focusing on getting better, getting stronger, been staying on my antibiotics and just trying to recover. I'm back, I'm gonna be back, 100% again. And we're gonna make this happen. I'm still gonna be a world champion, I swear to God."
That loss to Ferguson at UFC 216 snapped Lee's five-fight win streak, but with 'The Motown Phenom' still sitting in seventh in the UFC's lightweight rankings, he's sure to be handed a significant test once he declares himself ready to return.
With interim champion Ferguson seeking a unification bout with undisputed champion Conor McGregor, Lee will likely have to face a different Top Five opponent in order to propel him back into the world title conversation again.
There's also the possibility that he could move up to welterweight and look to make a dent in the UFC's 170lb division.
But — regardless of the weight class — armed with the valuable experience of everything that goes into a world title fight, Lee will be even more confident of success the next time he steps into the octagon.
Kevin Lee remains one of the UFC's top lightweight fighters and showed in that first round with Tony Ferguson that he has the skills to be a significant threat to the title, interim or otherwise.
It was a huge shame that he had to deal with a staph infection during fight week. Had he fought at 100% it would have been very interesting to see how he'd have fared in the second round and beyond. As it panned out on fight night, a depleted Lee had nothing left in the tank after an excellent opening round.
The key now is for Lee to rest up, get himself another fight booked, most likely in mid-to-late January, and start to build his momentum again.
If Ferguson vs McGregor is any kind of possibility at all - and that remains to be seen - the best option may be for Lee to take on undefeated Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Victory over 'The Eagle' would cement him as the next best contender in the UFC's lightweight division, but he'd have to outgrapple the most intimidating ground fighter in the division to get there. It would make for a fascinating contest.
Here are the latest UFC Official Lightweight Rankings
Champion: Conor McGregor (Ireland)
#1. Tony Ferguson (interim champion, USA)
#2. Khabib Nurmagomedov (Russia)
#3. Edson Barboza (Brazil)
#4. Eddie Alvarez (USA)
#5. Justin Gaethje (USA)
#6. Nate Diaz (USA)
#7. Kevin Lee (USA)
#8. Dustin Poirier (USA)
#9. Michael Johnson (USA)
#10. Michael Chiesa (USA)
#11. Al Iaquinta (USA)
#12. Beneil Dariush (Iran)
#13. Anthony Pettis (USA)
#14. Evan Dunham (USA)
#15. Mairbek Taisumov (Russia)
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