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“Like LeBron James and Tom Brady Put Together…”: ‘Stardom’ of Khabib Nurmagomedov Was Once Likened to Sporting Legends by UFC Sensation
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The former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov boasts a legacy that would make any fighter envious. The undefeated Dagestani was one of the most dominant fighters to ever grace the octagon. It’s no wonder his name has a constant presence in the GOAT debate among fans. Amongst other accolades, Khabib Nurmagomedov found himself in esteemed company, being compared with two other great athletes due to his stardom, LeBron James and Tom Brady by UFC sensation, Michael Chandler.

The four-time NBA winner LeBron James is widely regarded as one of the most accomplished athletes of all time. He has become a standard of comparison for other athletes. Another such star, one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, Tom Brady, has also transcended beyond expectations.

Hence, it wasn’t a surprise that ‘The Eagle’ drew comparisons to such illustrious sports figures. However, apart from his legacy, it was his stardom that fueled these comparisons.

When Michael Chandler compared LeBron James and Tom Brady with Khabib Nurmagomedov

Back in 2020, the three-time Bellator lightweight champion, Michael Chandler, was getting used to the UFC colors. However, he was still eyeing a potential showdown with the formidable Khabib Nurmagomedov.

For the same reason, he became the stand-in fighter for the UFC 254 main event clash between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje. As per a report from the Business Insider, during the lead-up to the fight, Chandler revealed how highly he regarded Nurmagomedov’s stardom. He said:

It’s amazing… he’s like LeBron James and Tom Brady put together in these other countries. And he’s looked at like that celebrity, athlete, and he’s treated like it.

Chandler was receiving a lot of messages and support from his Russian fans. During his interactions, the lightweight contender realized the popularity of Nurmagomedov in the Middle East and Russia. Thus, he drew a striking parallel between the widespread appeal of LeBron James and Tom Brady with Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Despite acknowledging his popularity and abilities as a fighter, Chandler was quite optimistic about his chances against Khabib Nurmagomedov. During his interview with MMA Fighting, the UFC lightweight claimed that he would be a quite difficult matchup for either ‘The Eagle’ or Justin Gaethje.

Contrary to these claims, during their fight at UFC 268, ‘The Highlight’ reigned victorious against Chandler via a unanimous decision. Thus, many argue that it would have been quite difficult for ‘Iron’ to defeat the unbeaten Dagestani inside the octagon.

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