UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has reacted to “inappropriate” comparisons between him and heavyweight boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

In a recent interview with TRT World, the undefeated Russian fighter was asked by a reporter about fans who compare him to Ali and if he liked this comparison.

“I think comparing Ali and me is probably wrong,” Nurmagomedov replied. “Only if we talk about the fact that we are both champions and both Muslims. But all the thing she did outside of the ring with this I cannot be compared.”

Nurmagomedov says he cannot be compared to Ali who had to face racial hatred in American during his time as champion.

“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.”

“To be able to compare me with him (Ali), 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 could be compared.” (Transcribed by BJPENN.com)

Despite believing the comparisons between him and Ali are “inappropriate” Nurmagomedov is happy that fans would wish to compare him to one of the best combat athletes of all-time.  

“I like that people compare us but, I think it’s inappropriate,” he concluded.

Nurmagomedov will attempt to unify the lightweight division for the second time in as many fights when he squares off against interim champion, Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 on October 24. It’ll be the first time Nurmagomedov has competed inside the Octagon since losing his father earlier this year.

Do you think Khabib Nurmagomedov and Muhammad Ali are comparable?

A lifelong fight fan from Liverpool, England who has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing for several years. Follow @JordanEllisUK on Twitter for all the latest fight news, views, interviews and live event coverage.