UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has called the Premier League the best competition in the world, revealing his support for Liverpool and memories of their historic 2005 UEFA Champions League final win.
Dagestan native Nurmagomedov told BT Sport of his admiration for England's top flight and love of newly crowned Champions League winners Liverpool:
Nurmagomedov, 30, was 16 when Liverpool came back from three goals down to draw 3-3 against AC Milan before beating a legendary Rossoneri lineup 3-2 on penalties:
"I like Liverpool. I remember when I was a kid in 2005 when I watched Liverpool versus Milan in Dagestan. We had a big screen TV on the pitch, thousands of people were watching this match.
"And they were losing 3-0, and I really believed 'they have to come back, they have to come back' because I liked that team, it was Milan Baros, (Vladimir) Smicer, (John Arne) Riise, (Sami) Hyypia. I remember this. Stevie Gerrard!
"It was a very good team, but they have a very good team right now too. I watch all the Champions League matches and Liverpool. But I'm a big fan of Real Madrid."
The Reds were recently crowned European kings for the first time since that famous victory in Istanbul, Turkey, and finished a close second to Manchester City in the Premier League title race.
Nurmagomedov was in the Parc des Princes for Liverpool's Champions League group-stage visit to Paris Saint-Germain in November:
The Eagle will return to the Octagon against interim lightweight title-holder Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on September 7.
Nurmagomedov's agent, Ali Abdelaziz, recently told ESPN.com's Marc Raimondi the fighter has signed a new multi-fight contract with the UFC. He served a nine-month suspension for his part in the brawl following his submission win over Conor McGregor at UFC 229 in October 2018.
The MMA superstar is a practicing Muslim, as is Liverpool forward and fan favourite Mohamed Salah. Nurmagomedov spoke to Al-Ittihad (h/t Metro) in October about his appreciation of the Egypt international and his principles:
"I follow him, but I haven't met him before. He's a great player. We want many role models like him.
"They reflect the true image of our ethics. I feel that Allah is standing with him [Salah], and our new generations need those who are like Mohamed Salah to learn humility, no matter how famous and innovative you are.
"He's an icon that we must protect, and we stand behind him so he can continue to succeed. I admire him and the ethics and values he spreads every day in Europe."
Much like Liverpool, Nurmagomedov is enjoying a purple patch in his career, although one could argue the 27-0 superstar is yet to suffer a dip in form to date.
Despite his remarks on liking Liverpool, manager Abdelaziz suggested prior to the 2018 Champions League final—when Real beat the Reds 3-1—that Nurmagomedov favoured Los Blancos at the time:
Liverpool recently discovered they'll face Norwich City at Anfield on the opening day of the 2019-20 Premier League season, and they are sure to be happy to have one of the UFC's most dominant fighters among their fanbase.