SINGAPORE - One of the fastest-rising stars in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Kevin Lee, has suggested the possibility of him facing Canada's Georges St-Pierre, one of the all-time greats of mixed martial arts (MMA), before the end of the year.
And it could be for the championship title of a new 165lb (up to 75kg) division.
The American made the statements to The Straits Times at a media event ahead of the UFC Fight Night Singapore event on Saturday (June 23), where he is appearing as a guest fighter.
Currently, the UFC has eight weight classes for male fighters, from flyweight (up to 125lbs or 57kg) to heavyweight (up to 265lbs or 120kg).
Lee, 25, usually fights at lightweight (up to 155lbs or 70kg), and his last fight was an impressive victory over Brazilian Edson Barboza at the UFC Fight Night 128 event in New Jersey in April.
When asked about his plans for the rest of the year, Lee told The Straits Times: "Right now, (what) makes the most sense is to really correct the divisions
"The 155lb and 170lb (divisions) are so messed up right now. You've got three titles between the two divisions already, so they've got to add another weight class.
"I think me and Georges for the 165lb title makes the most amount of sense. You do Conor (McGregor) and Khabib (Nurmagomedov, the reigning lightweight champion) in October, you do me and Georges in November, at Madison Square Garden.
"And maybe you do Tyron (Woodley, welterweight champion) and Colby (Covington, the interim champion) to figure out the 170lbs (up to 77kg) division."
UFC 229 is scheduled for Oct 6 at the T-Mobile Centre in Las Vegas, and a fight between MMA's biggest name, McGregor, and Russian star Nurmagomedov is reported to be in the works as its headline.
The UFC is also set to stage UFC 230 at the Madison Square Garden in New York on Nov 3, and Lee is hinting that's when the new 165lb division will be created.
Lee has long led calls - echoed by several other fighters - for the formation of a new division to sit between lightweight and welterweight, but UFC president Dana White has never confirmed he is willing to do so.
But Lee spoke with some certainty that the match-up with St-Pierre for the 165lb title would take place.
"Georges is one of the ones that really got me into the sport, I've kinda even modelled my career after him a little bit," said Lee.
"We started in the same first promotion, we had the same first manager, we have the same management (Creative Artists Agency) now.
"There are so many parallels to us now, that I think that adds even more intrigue to the fight
"It will be the hardest fight of my career, it'll be the biggest challenge But, as soon as I get back home from UFC Singapore, I'm going to go back and figure out how to beat the man."