UFC rising star Kevin Lee says Khabib Nurmagomedov is running scared ... and he's ready to expose the so-called #1 contender for Conor McGregor's lightweight belt.
Lee told TMZ Sports he's been gunning for Khabib forever ... but "the man just won't sign to fight."
Of course, Khabib's had his own issues -- he was hospitalized for a botched weight cut right before he was set to face Tony Ferguson at UFC 209. He was pulled from the fight and has been laying low ever since.
So, what's Lee's master plan? Beat Michael Chiesa -- who he's fighting this weekend at UFC Fight Night 112 -- so badly that Nurmagomedov has no choice but to throw down with him.
Lee's even got a deadline for Khabib ... but has serious doubts about him making the date.
"If he can't show up with six months notice then, God damn, I don't know what to do."
Lee knows he's got to handle Chiesa first, though ... and he's got a violent strategy.