Tony Ferguson waited a year for his shot at UFC gold. And in his interim lightweight bout against Kevin Lee, the patience of “El Cucuy” paid off.
Ferguson submitted Lee in the third round of their UFC 216 main event bout with a triangle choke, capturing the UFC lightweight interim belt and adding to his now 10-fight win streak.
Things got off to a fast start as both men dropped each other. However, it was Lee who rebounded better and ended the round in a high mount and threatening to finish the fight with elbows. Ferguson was able to survive the round and even absorb a blow after the bell.
Lee’s failure to finish the bout in the first round may have been his undoing, as he slowed down significantly after the first five minutes. As Lee started to tire, Ferguson ramped up the pressure on the feet, picking apart Lee in the second. Lee rebounded in the third with a couple of takedowns, but Ferguson threatened with a deep armbar, followed by a perfect triangle choke that forced Lee to tap.
Here’s the finish courtesy of Fightful’s live coverage:
Lee scores another takedown on Ferguson and he gets the full guard. Ferguson rolls for the arm bar and Lee escapes to maintain top position, Ferguson tries attacking Lee with strikes while on his back. Ferguson catches Lee in a triangle choke from out of nowhere and a tap out follows.
Official Result: #2 Tony Ferguson def. #7 Kevin Lee by submission via triangle choke (4:02, R3) to win the UFC Interim Lightweight Title
An elated Ferguson said the fight played out how he figured it would, saying he tried to piss Lee off in order to get him to burn more energy. He also called out UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor saying, “defend or vacate.”
A humbled Lee admitted that he fought with a staph infection, but took nothing away from Ferguson’s performance.