Khabib Nurmagomedov thinks the recent comparisons to heavyweight boxing legend Muhammad Ali are inappropriate because, the way ‘The Eagle’ sees it, Ali’s accomplishments both inside and outside the ring far surpass any other combat sports figure, himself included.
Ali who, like Khabib was a Muslim, was a prominent figure in the civil rights movement and an outspoken critic of, and conscientious objector to the Vietnam war.
“I think comparing Ali and me is probably wrong,” Khabib told True Gym MMA in a recent interview, per The Sports Rush.
“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.
Khabib on the comparison with Muhammad Ali pic.twitter.com/Msskgm9sbq
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“He threw away the gold medal. He changed the attitude towards his race very much. So, we cannot be compared.
“To be able to compare me with him, I need to go back to those years and be black, and be a champion. 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.”
Ali passed away in 2016 at the age of 74 and is widely considered one of the greatest boxers of all time.
Khabib, 31, is looking to forge a similar legacy in MMA and will look to extend his professional record to 29-0 when he takes on interim lightweight champ Justin Gaethje in a title unification bout at UFC 254. The highly anticipated pay-per-view, which will feature Khabib vs. Gaethje as the main event, takes place next month, Oct. 24 at UFC Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.