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Dublin: 8 °C Monday 10 December, 2018

'This fight is for the real UFC lightweight championship... McGregor's the paper champ'

Kevin Lee’s interim title bout against Tony Ferguson is approaching.

Source: UFC - Ultimate Fighting Championship/YouTube

AS HIS OPPORTUNITY to get his hands on a UFC belt approaches, Kevin Lee has taken a swipe at UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor.

An interim lightweight belt will be up for grabs when Lee (16-2) faces Tony Ferguson (22-3) in the main event at UFC 216 in Las Vegas on Saturday, 7 October.

McGregor became the UFC’s lightweight champion last November when he dethroned Eddie Alvarez via second-round TKO at Madison Square Garden. Seven days later, Lee was fighting on the preliminary portion of a Fight Night card in Belfast.

But the confident 25-year-old has catapulted himself into the upper echelons of the 155lbs division in the meantime, having submitted both Francisco Trinaldo and Michael Chiesa this year to climb up to seventh place in the rankings.

However, on the back of his victory over former champion Rafael dos Anjos, Ferguson — who’ll be aiming for his 10th straight win — will provide Lee with his toughest test yet.

MMA 2016 - UFC 205 - New York Conor McGregor was crowned lightweight champion at UFC 205. Source: Jason Silva

“This [fight] is for the real UFC lightweight championship. McGregor’s the paper champ. The man’s only got one fight in the division,” said Lee in an extended preview for UFC 216 which the organisation published today.

“Me and Tony Ferguson both have double-digit fights in this division — the toughest division, hands down, in the UFC. October 7 will determine the real champion.”

Given that he has yet to defend the title, some fighters have called for McGregor to be stripped of the lightweight belt — as was the case when the UFC relieved him of the featherweight strap last year.

The 29-year-old Dubliner’s only outing since his win against Eddie Alvarez was a boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather last month, which ended in defeat via TKO in the 10th round.

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Paul Dollery

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