Khabib Nurmagomedov Says He Can’t Be Compared with Muhammad Ali

By Tudor Leonte Sep 16, 2020
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“The Eagle” is flattered by the comparison, but prefers to fly low.

The massive popularity of Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight ace Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) prompted some to compare him to the iconic Muhammad Ali. While talking to True Gym MMA, "The Eagle" expressed some satisfaction in hearing that. Still, he wanted to restrain the enthusiasm by pointing out all the activism of the late Olympic medalist.

“I think comparing Ali and me is probably wrong,” he said. “Only if we talk about the fact that we are both champions and both muslims. But all the things he did outside the ring, with this, I cannot be compared indeed. At the time when he was a champion, he was…another race, and at that time in America, black people were treated badly, and according to his stories, he was not even served in restaurants. He threw away the gold medal. He changed the attitude towards his race very much. So, we cannot be compared.”

The lightweight champion went on to add that his current social situation is very different from Ali's one.

“To be able to compare me with him, I need to go back to those years and be black and be a champion,” he added. “After that, we would see how I would have behaved in such a situation. In this case, we can be compared. I like that people compare us, but I think it is inappropriate.”

Nurmagomedov had a considerable rise in popularity thanks to his feud with former UFC two-division champion Conor McGregor. “The Eagle” faced his Irish opponent at UFC 229, where he submitted McGregor via neck crank in the fourth stanza. After that victory, Nurmagomedov and his late father were received by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who wanted to congratulate him for his performance.

The last time he stepped into the Octagon, Nurmagomedov submitted former interim champ Dustin Poirier in the third stanza at their UFC 242 encounter in Abu Dhabi.

Now, Nurmagomedov is called to headline the UFC 254 event. “The Eagle” will clash with interim titleholder Justin Gaethje in a lightweight title unification bout. The upcoming fight will be the first since his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, passed away due to health complications related to COVID-19. Advertisement

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