Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee are going to do battle in the main event of UFC 216, with the winner becoming the UFC Interim Lightweight Champion.
While some questioned why Khabib Nurmagomedov isn't in the match, one of the UFC’s matchmakers in Sean Shelby has stated that Nurmagomedov was offered the bout against Ferguson before Lee got the call.
“Just to clear things up, a fight was offered to Nurmagomedov on Nov. 4 (at UFC 217), and at that point, we were trying to put cards together toward the end of the year,” Shelby said on the UFC’s Watch List. “I was informed that (Nurmagomedov) could not make that date, and he probably wouldn’t be able to fight until at least December, so that left Tony without a dance partner.”
Ferguson and Nurmagomedov were supposed to fight a few times throughout their UFC tenures, but injuries seemingly killed every opportunity they had to fight.
Lee did turn out to be option two for the UFC, but Shelby wants the fans to know that this title contender is no slouch.
“We backed Tony up, and Kevin Lee was there,” Shelby said. “Look at his resume as of late. He’s a phenomenal fighter. He’s doing fantastic. Right now, I think he’s the hottest thing in the division.”
UFC 216 takes place on Saturday, October 7 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada with Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, with a post-show podcast to follow.