Kevin Lee out to prove his worth at UFC Brasilia: Khabib vs. Ferguson is for ‘my title’

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Kevin Lee is back in the win column and back on his path towards UFC gold.

Lee (18-5 MMA, 11-5 UFC) scored one of the best knockouts of 2019 over undefeated prospect Gregor Gillespie, blasting him with a head kick, and knocking him out of the ranks of the unbeaten at UFC 244 in November.

The win announced his arrival back to the 155-pound division, and while it made waves in the MMA community, Lee still thinks he’s not getting the respect that he deserves.

“A little bit (more respect) but no to be honest, not yet,” Lee told MMA Junkie. “That’s why I got to do this one again to really remind people. I still feel like I’m exed out of a lot of conversations … especially around the lightweight title.”

Lee next meets another surging lightweight, when he heads to enemy territory, to face Charles Oliveira in the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 28, which takes place March 14 at Ginasio Nilson Nelson in Brasilia, Brazil.

The former UFC interim lightweight title challenger may have fallen short in his 155-pound title pursuit in 2017, but he’s still confident that he’ll have the belt wrapped around his waist someday.

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will take on Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 in April, and Lee hopes that his performance over Oliveira will prove he fit into the title picture.

“Khabib and Tony are getting ready to fight for it, but that’s my title,” Lee said. “I got to go out there and I got to keep proving it to people. So yeah, I feel like I’m a little exed out of certain conversations that should be happening but, I’m going to come out the back end and they can’t stop me. So yeah, am I getting a little bit more respect? OK, but not really. Not yet.”

Will the fifth time be the charm for the Nurmagomedov and Ferguson matchup? Conor McGregor may be staying ready to jump in, but Lee thinks the fight happens this time.

He did initially want to face Nurmagomedov’s teammate, Islam Makhachev on the same card, but instead he’ll just be a keeping a close eye on the fight.

“I think it’s gotta happen,” Lee said. “Even just for them two, I think they’re going to try and make everything happen to make sure that that fight happens for sure so I’m kind of banking on it to happen. I wanted to fight on the undercard of that one, but I’ll still be in attendance, I’ll still watch that fight.”

But first, he faces a dangerous Oliveira, who’s finished his last six fights in a row.

“I think it’s going to be a hell of a fight,” Lee said. “I’m headed over to Tristar and we going to come up with a great game plan and we’re going to go out there and put it on him. I don’t think he’s as well-rounded as me. He is very well-rounded but not as much as I am so I’m going to prove again that I’m the most well-rounded lightweight and I’m coming for that title.”