For years, Kevin Lee has been calling out Khabib Nurmagomedov for a fight, even when no one else seemed to want anything to do with the undefeated Dagestani. But as Nurmagomedov kept winning all the way to UFC gold, Kevin Lee has suffered his share of setbacks along his journey, which has prevented a potential showdown between the two lightweights. And the door seemed to permanently shut on a bout between the two ever happening when Khabib Nurmagodov retired following his UFC 254 victory over Justin Gaethje. But Lee sees cracks in this door and believes he has the power to kick it all the way down in the future.
“He’s (Khabib Nurmagomedov) going to come back,” Lee told ESPN recently. “He’s going to come back for one or two of them. It’s just my job to be the one that he’s going to come back for. I’ve got to be big enough for him to come back for.“
Kevin Lee has been keeping a low profile since his loss to Charles Oliveira in March, but he believes that when he returns to competition, he’ll be able to surpass the success he had in 2017, a year that saw him win his first main event and then later compete for the interim lightweight title. And once Kevin Lee rebuilds his name to a high enough stature, he believes Nurmagodeov will return to face this new challenge.
“I’ve been kinda straight away from everything, been shying away from everything,” Lee said. “It’s kind of an old Detroit mentality, kinda stay down until you come up. My last ‘come up’ season was 2017, when I had my last ‘come up’ season. So the next one, I’ll make sure I’ll give him something to shoot for. He’s still got that fire in him too, I know it. I’ve just got to give him something to shoot for.”
Do you believe Kevin Lee has the potential to defeat Khabib Nurmagomedov?