April is going to be an absolutely huge month for the UFC lightweight division.
On April 7th, Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov will meet at UFC 223 in Brooklyn to determine a successor to Conor McGregor’s lightweight throne. Earlier that same evening, the division’s ninth-ranked contender, Michael Chiesa, will return from a ten-month layoff to face former champion, Anthony Pettis. While the division’s number 10, Al Iaquinta, is also scheduled to take on the surging Paul Felder, who is currently unranked despite winning five of his last six.
On April 14th, the promotion has booked a surefire ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate in the headline slot of UFC on Fox 29 in Glendale, Arizona, with bloodthirsty warmongers Dustin Poirier, currently ranked fifth at 155lbs, and Justin Gaethje, ranked sixth, set to do battle.
Now, according to MMAFighting reporter Ariel Helwani, the UFC is close to finalizing yet another mouth-watering and significant lightweight scrap for the following weekend.
In his last outing, back in October, Kevin Lee failed in a bid to claim the interim lightweight title when Tony Ferguson submitted him in the third round of the UFC 216 main event with a triangle choke. Since then, Lee has been hit by tragedy, as his longtime head coach, Robert Follis, passed away in December. In a recent interview with Cage Side Submissions Radio, Lee said that he was still in the process of “rebuilding” his team in the wake of this terrible loss but added that he hoped to return to the octagon in May or June and was targeting Edson Barboza.
The UFC is giving Lee the exact fight that he was looking for, albeit a little earlier than he was expecting. If all goes according to plan, Lee will face Barboza in the main event of UFC Fight Night 128 on April 21st in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Like Lee, Barboza is coming off of a tough setback, as he was mauled en route to a unanimous decision defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 219 just before the end of last year. Before that, the Brazilian had won three straight.
If Lee and Barboza, ranked seventh and fourth respectively, are booked to headline the Atlantic City card, eight of the top ten contenders in the lightweight division will be on the UFC’s April schedule.