After all the animosity between Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee in the lead-up to UFC 216, the end result couldn’t be more classy by both opponents. After Ferguson tapped out Lee in a triangle choke, both men embraced and exchanged words. It wasn’t an easy fight for either of them and both men earned each other’s respect. Kevin Lee continued this respect in his post-fight interviews. Lately, he’s opened up and has said Tony Ferguson deserves to fight Conor McGregor.
“[TONY FERGUSON VERSUS CONOR MCGREGOR] SHOULD HAPPEN, IT SHOULD. IN ANY OTHER SPORT OR IN ANY OTHER CIRCUMSTANCE OR SITUATION, THAT’S THE FIGHT TO MAKE HAPPEN. BUT, LIKE REALLY, SPEAKING AS A FAN, AS A FAN OF THE SPORT, I DON’T KNOW MAN, I DON’T KNOW IF CONOR WANTS THOSE PROBLEMS. TONY [FERGUSON] IS A MOTHERF-CKER. I SAID IT BEFORE THE FIGHT, TONY CAN FIGHT AND HE CAN TAKE A HELLUVA SHOT. I HIT HIM WITH SOME BIG SHOTS THAT I THOUGHT WOULD LIKE FAZE HIM OR CUT HIM, BUT THE MAN JUST WOULDN’T QUIT. HE’S GOT NO QUIT IN HIM.”
“I KNEW BEFORE THE FIGHT, BUT ESPECIALLY AFTER BEING IN THERE WITH HIM AND I LAY MY HANDS ON HIM, I’LL TELL YOU RIGHT NOW THAT MAN HAS NO QUIT IN HIM. I DON’T KNOW IF MCGREGOR REALLY WANTS THAT. I DON’T KNOW IF MCGREGOR’S COACHES ARE GONNA’ BE TOO HAPPY ABOUT GETTING THAT MATCH-UP. I THINK THEY’RE MORE GOING TO PUSH FOR THE [NATE] DIAZ MATCH AS MUCH AS THEY CAN. MCGREGOR MAY COME OUT AND SAY HE WANTS THE TONY FIGHT, BUT I DON’T KNOW MAN. I DON’T SEE THAT HAPPENING IF I’M HONEST WITH YOU.” —KEVIN LEE SPEAKING TO CHAEL SONNEN ON HIS ‘YOU’RE WELCOME’ PODCAST
There are a ton of options for McGregor, but if you go strictly by the book, Tony Ferguson is the next guy to fight him hands down. If McGregor wins, he silences title defense critiques and reigns again as an undisputed champion. If Ferguson wins, you’ve got a giant new star and McGregor still has enough drawing power to fight Nate Diaz and make big money for all involved anyway. Unfortunately, we’ll probably have to wait until 2018 to find out the UFC’s decision. Props to Kevin Lee as well, to humbly want the best for his former opponent.
This article first appeared onBJPenn.comon 10/12/2017.