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Kevin Lee believes he will fight McGregor by the end of the year, says Ferguson is ‘real champ’

UFC lightweight contender Kevin Lee predicts a showdown with Conor McGregor by the end of 2018.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Chiesa vs Lee Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Lee is currently focused on Edson Barboza, but the top-eight ranked UFC lightweight talent foresees a fight with current champ Conor McGregor by the end of the year.

According to Lee, who lost in an interim title bout to Tony Ferguson at UFC 216, beating ‘The Notorious’ is his best chance at securing a rematch with ‘El Cucuy’.

The 25-year-old prospect considers Ferguson ‘the real champion’ and believes he will beat Khabib Nurmagomedov and McGregor in back to back fights.

“That fight happens at the end of the year, me and Conor,” Lee said at a UFC 222 media scrum last week. “I think that’s the fight that everybody’s been looking forward to, and is right there within striking distance.

“Everything I’m setting out is a plan to get back to that [Ferguson] fight. He’s been the real champ, and I don’t really see no confusion about it. You got Conor, that has a belt, but the man is not a champion and I think he even knows that. If he comes back and when he fights, then...if he beats Tony Ferguson then obviously he’ll have it. But, right now, Tony Ferguson is the real champion; he’s the one I’m getting back to.”

McGregor, the official 155-pound titleholder, is expected to be stripped of the belt when Ferguson and Nurmagomedov make weight for UFC 223. The Irishman will be in attendance at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York to support his long-time teammate and friend, Artem Lobov. The highly anticipated pay-per-view takes place next month, April 7.

‘The Motown Phenom’ will also fight next month, in a headlining bout against Edson Barboza at UFC Fight Night 128. The event will take place on April 21 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.