According to UFC boss Dana White, Khabib Nurmagomedov could almost be seen as the best fighter of all time if he beats Justin Gaethje.
The two will compete against each other on Saturday night on Fight Island for the world title in the lightweight.
"Khabib is a superstar," White said at a news conference in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
"If he also beats Gaethje, then he is on his way to GOAT status (Greatest Of All Time, ed.)."
The 32-year-old Nurmagomedov has won all his 28 MMA duels.
His American opponent Gaethje (31) was victorious 22 times in 24 fights.
"Khabib has been the best fighter in this division for some time now and if he continues like this, he will soon be the number one fighter in the world," said White.
Nurmagomedov, White and Gaethje at the staredown the day before the fight. (Photo: Getty)
Nurmagomedov, White and Gaethje at the staredown the day before the fight.
Nurmagomedov does not pursue Ali and Tyson's status
The praise of the UFC boss should mainly be seen as an attempt to motivate Nurmagomedov to continue for a long time.
The cage fighter from Dagestan hinted in the past after trying to stop thirty victories.
On Friday, Nurmagomedov said it was not his ambition to achieve a similar status to Muhammad Ali or Mike Tyson.
"I don't know if I'll ever get close to these two, that's not something I'm aiming for."
"I just want to win every fight," said Nurmagomedov.
"We'll see what the future holds, because I don't feel like I'm done yet. But if I ever say goodbye, I want to do it as the undefeated world lightweight champion."
First fight since his father died
Nurmagomedov will come into action for the first time since the corona outbreak on Saturday.
His father and trainer Adbulmanap Nurmagomedov died in July at the age of 57 after becoming infected with COVID-19.
"The most important thing in life for me is to stay close to my family," said the Russian.
"Because today you can be a champion and tomorrow everything can be different."
Nurmagomedov against Gaethje is the main fight of UFC 254 and starts around 8 p.m. Dutch time.