Khabib Nurmagomedov once had the rare privilege of being invited to Mike Tyson’s house before one of his biggest UFC fights.
The undisputed lightweight champion of the world now emanates the same aura of fear and intimidation for which ‘Iron Mike’ was renowned for in his boxing prime.
As the youngest heavyweight world champion in history, few would argue respect was not earned the hard way.
In the same way, Khabib has also had to earn his respect inside the octagon by overcoming several injury problems and tough foes to prove he is one of the very best in the world.
Prior to dismantling Edson Barboza at UFC 219 in 2017, the Russian actually travelled to the Tyson residence before the fight and it clearly worked wonders as he scored a unanimous decision victory.
He said at the post-fight press conference: “The last time I was in Vegas I met with him inside his house. He invited me. I am a big fan of Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali. And I want to be the greatest like these guys. Not only inside the cage but also outside.
“A champion inside the ring is not everything. You have to be the greatest outside, too. Muhammad Ali is a perfect example. In mixed martial arts also I like how [Uriah] Faber and George St-Pierre move outside the ring.
“You cannot do a lot of crazy stuff outside the cage. Even if you beat everyone inside the cage, you have to be a champion outside the cage rather than inside. Mike Tyson is like that for me.”
The 28-0 superstar added: “First time I watched Mike Tyson fight it was like 2003, February when he fought Clifford Etienne. I watched the fight at 5 or 6 in the morning.
“And I can’t imagine how after 14-15 years in Vegas I’m going to show the best performance of the night and Tyson watched my fight. It’s like a dream come true. You never know what happens tomorrow, so if you have dreams you must follow it.”
Unfortunately for Khabib, he is unlikely to be able to watch his hero in action later this year as a result of the COVID pandemic.
At the end of November, Tyson will return to the ring to fight another legend in Roy Jones Jr.