For the first time, Conor McGregor was stopped by strikes in his MMA career as Dustin Poirier claimed vengeance over the Irishman in the main event of last month’s card.
While some fighters’ reputation would have suffered significant damage by losing two of their last three outings, McGregor remains one of the biggest superstars on the UFC roster and Kevin Lee is of the opinion that the recent defeat could have benefitted ‘The Notorious’.
According to Lee, who is currently ranked 12th in the UFC’s lightweight rankings, the ever-divisive McGregor made fight fans want to see him lose again by dropping to the strikes of Poirier.
“I think that shocked a lot of people. It shocked everyone really. I think it even shocked McGregor – I could see it in his eyes when he was going down,” Lee told MMA Junkie.
“It shook up the game, that’s for sure. It damn sure shook up the game, but it made it more interesting to be honest. If he had won, I think it would’ve fell in line with where things are going, but that’s one the thing I love about MMA: You just really don’t ever know what’s going to happen.
“I think if anything, his stock kind of went up still. I know a lot of people are looking at it like, ‘Oh he’s striker and got knocked out. He’s going to be down for a long time.’
“But I kind of think his stock went up by losing because people want to see him lose. They’re going to want to see him lose again, they’re going to want it again. And for me, personally, it’s great because with him losing, now I can fight him sooner.”
McGregor is reportedly in talks for an immediate rubber match against Poirier this summer, with the UFC likely eager to recapture the pay-per-view success of last month’s event.
But Lee, who has been out of the Octagon for almost a year after being submitted by Charles Oliveira, thinks it makes more sense for ‘The Notorious’ to complete his trilogy with Nate Diaz before he turns his attention to a third clash with Poirier down the line.
Lee is optimistic of securing a red panty night for himself against McGregor and laid out his hopeful path that will lead to a bout with the Dubliner.
“I think it makes sense for Conor McGregor to go fight Nate Diaz,” Lee continued. “I know they’re talking about him and Poirier again, but that would be stupid – even on his end.
“I don’t think a lot of people come back from being knocked out and then in an immediate rematch get to win it. And it’s like, ‘Come on.’ Can we stop giving the guy so many, I mean, he gets a lot of benefits. He gets to call all his fights and avenge losses right away.
“I’ve had to wait to fight Tony Ferguson three years, really it be four years by the time I fight him, and he gets to do it right away. Go ahead, give him Nate Diaz, and then by the end of the year, then me and him can get it on. That sounds good to me.