Khabib Nurmagomedov says people comparing him to Muhammad Ali are ‘probably wrong’

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If Khabib Nurmagomedov had his way, fans would stop comparing him to legendary boxer Muhammad Ali. That is, the UFC lightweight champion said, because Ali’s legacy is as much about his standing as a Black sports and political icon as his incredible in-ring resume.

Nurmagomedov was asked about the comparisons during an interview with True Gym MMA and explained that the only similarity between the two champions is in both being Muslim champions of their sport.

“I think comparing Ali and me is probably wrong,” Nurmagomedov 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 toward 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, we would see how I would behave in such a situation. In this case, we can be compared. I like that people compare us, but I think it is inappropriate.”

Nurmagomedov is scheduled to defend his lightweight championship against interim champ Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 on Oct. 25. A win over Gaethje would run his professional record to 29-0. Nurmagomedov has expressed interest in fighting Georges St-Pierre in the following fight to reach his goal of retiring with a perfect 30-0 record.

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