UFC superstar Khabib Nurmagomedov says he takes inspiration from Tyson Fury as he looks to continue his domination of the Octagon at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi on Saturday night.
Khabib (28-0) bids to retain his UFC lightweight crown and that unbeaten record when he takes on Justin Gaethje (22-2) in a huge showdown at UFC 254 (live on BT Sport Office, price £19.95).
And, speaking to ESPN MMA via BT Sport Boxing ahead of his first fight in 13 months, he explained why he had been inspired by the way ‘The Gypsy King’ reached the heavyweight summit. Not once but twice.
He said: If you wanna build yourself, become a legend, you have to take risks. If you fight somebody you have to take risks. People have to talk about ‘maybe he’ll lose, maybe he’ll win’. Okay you win, next fight.
"If you want to become a legend you've got to take risks."
"For example, @Tyson_Fury…"@TeamKhabib takes inspiration from The Gypsy King heading in to his 29th fight 🙌 pic.twitter.com/RiXzvBZAZI
— Boxing on BT Sport 🥊 (@BTSportBoxing) October 24, 2020
“For example, Tyson Fury, why did he become big? He fought (Wladimir) Klitschko, he beat him. People talk about how Klitschko was gonna beat him.
Then he fought (Deontay) Wilder, draw. Then again he fought Wilder. People talk about 50-50 or maybe Wilder will knock him out. He come and smashed him, dominated him. That’s why he became big, you have to take challenges. People have to talk, ‘okay, maybe you’re gonna lose’. But right now, what position am I in?”
Khabib and Tyson Fury: Crossing over?
Khabib has been the subject of constant speculation about a potential crossover fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr, while Fury himself has already crossed over into WWE.
The WBC heavyweight king defeated Braun Strowman at WWE Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia in 2019. And he has been strongly linked with a future showdown against Scottish superstar Drew McIntyre.
Fury of course is due to return to the boxing ring on December 5 at London’s Royal Albert Hall. At this stage the frontunners to face him are Frenchman Carlos Takam (39-5-1) and German Agit Kabayel (20-0).
‘The Gypsy King’ had been due to face Deontay Wilder in a trilogy fight in Las Vegas, but time ran out on that after COVID-19 had scuppered dates earlier in 2020.