Former UFC heavyweight Daniel Cormier has ranked Khabib Nurmagomedov higher than Muhammad Ali on his all-time greatest fighter list.
Nurmagomedov is considered one of the most dominant fighters in UFC history having retired as an undefeated lightweight champion having defeated the likes of Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. Legendary boxing heavyweight Ali, meanwhile, is considered one of the most successful and influential sportspeople of all time for his impact inside and outside of the ring.
The late Ali defeated some of the era’s greatest stars including Joe Frazier, Sonny Liston and George Foreman before retiring after losing to Trevor Berbick in 1981. However UFC legend Cormier has placed both undefeated star Floyd Mayweather and Nurmagomedov above Ali in first and second place, with UFC stars Georges St Pierre and Amanda Nunes rounding off his top five.
“So hear me out you might disagree with me on this, Muhammad Ali at No.3,” he said during an interview on First Take which saw his co-host Stephen A Smith react in disbelief. “One of the greatest boxers of all-time, what he did transcended the sport. But here is the difference, he was a pillar of our community. He did so many things outside of the boxing ring, and I think that is why we elevate him to the greatest boxer of all-time.
His co-host shouted: “Thrilla in Manila, Rumble in the Jungle, beating Joe Frazier, beating George Foreman are you kidding me?” Cormier continued: “I get it but I have reserved the top of my list for the undefeated. He was not undefeated. At two we put in Khabib Nurmagomedov and he was 29-0. The way that he beat Conor McGregor was second to none and he could have defended his belt as many times as he wanted.
“And at No.1 we have Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather who is the greatest-boxer of all-time, he is also the greatest promoter. He beat Canelo, he beat Manny Pacquiao and Canelo and it doesn’t matter when he beat them, they all got beat.” Ali is very unlucky to not top the list given the fact he was named Sportsperson of the Century by many media outlets including the BBC and Sports Illustrated in 1999.
He was renowned for his brash-talking and opinionated persona which saw him protest about a number of societal issues outside of the ring, while competing in some of the most iconic events ever such as the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ with George Foreman which attracted one billion viewers globally.
Nurmagomedov retired in 2020 having made just three defences of his UFC lightweight title missing out on fights with the likes of long-term rival Tony Ferguson. The Russian has never considered a comeback to the octagon which was largely down to the death of his father Abdulmanap who passed away following complications with coronavirus.