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UFC 216’s Kevin Lee on Khabib Nurmagomedov: ‘He doesn’t want to fight nobody’

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Kevin Lee gives his take on top UFC lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Esther Lin

It’s no secret that undefeated Dagestani Khabib Nurmagomedov isn’t the most active fighter on the UFC roster.

Nurmagomedov, who is currently ranked as the No. 1 lightweight contender in the world, has fought just twice in the past three-and-a-half years due to a series of injury and weight cutting complications.

Rising UFC star Kevin Lee, however, who will take on Tony Ferguson in a lightweight interim championship bout at UFC 216, thinks Nurmagomedov’s absence goes deeper than injuries and weight cutting.

According to ‘The Motown Phenom’, ‘The Eagle’ doesn’t want to fight anybody that could be a challenge.

“It’s weird,” Lee said at a Monday media event promoting UFC 216, per MMA Fighting’s Dave Doyle. “The man don’t fight! So, what can I do? What can I do? How longs that dude been out? How long, it’s been over a year now? He doesn’t want to fight nobody, really. He doesn’t want to fight nobody that proves to be a challenge to him. He wants to hold on to that imaginary ‘0’ that he thinks he’s got.”

Nurmagomedov was scheduled to fight ‘El Cucuy’ at UFC 209 but pulled out at the last minute due to a failed weight cut and is expected to be out of action for the rest of the year.

Lee, 25, wants to fight the Russian in December but is also open to a fight against official 155-pound champion Conor McGregor.

“I said I’d take [Nurmagomedov] on in December, Dec. 2, but I don’t know,” Lee said. now Conor’s saying that saying he might come back earlier, so, we’ll see. We’ll see how this one shakes up after. I’m interested in that, I’m interested in taking on Tony, and then fighting Khabib in December, and then defending the title against Conor, but we’ll see how things shake out.”

Although Lee doesn’t think Nurmagomedov’s heart is in the sport, he has respect for the Russian fans and their loyalty.

“He’s got a whole country behind him,” Lee said. “He’s got all of Russia. The man don’t even have to fight and somehow he’s still keeping himself in the media.”

Lee vs. Ferguson takes place this Saturday, October 7, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.