KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV revealed he has picked Cristiano Ronaldo's brain on the keys to success as an elite sportsman and admitted he prefers football to UFC.
The undefeated Russian, 32, is at the top of his MMA game but has looked to the Portuguese superstar, 35, for advice on life at the summit.
The Eagle returns to the octagon for the first time in 13 months to defend his lightweight belt against American Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 on Saturday.
Khabib told UFC Russia: "When I met Cristiano, I had so many questions to ask. I wanted to know how he was able to maintain his desire to be the best for 17 years straight.
"Since 2003 he has been at the highest level and every time at the end of the season he is in the top-ten players ranking list.
"Moreover, he was the best for seven or eight years straight in Europe and in the world. He won the Golden Ball five times, won the Champions League five times.
"He won everything while he was in Manchester United and Real Madrid. Two world class football leagues. He won everything.
"I was wondering how he managed to achieve it. As far as I understand it, his internal energy, desire, motivation, discipline, recovery techniques, regime, nutrition – he combines all of it."
The respect is mutual between Ronaldo and Khabib.
And the football ace backed his pal to 'of course' beat Gaethje this weekend.
But the former Red Devil has also hung out with Khabib's octagon rival Conor McGregor and looked to be friendly with The Notorious when he visited him at a training camp in 2016.
Ronaldo – who is self-isolating after TWICE testing positive for Covid-19 – could have faced competition from self-confessed football fanatic Khabib.
He added: "For me, football is the number one sport.
"When I was a child, I dreamed of being a football player and I have always watched football.
"In a way, football is better [than mixed martial arts], you don't have to fight or smash somebody – you just go onto grass and show everyone what you are capable of doing professionally.
"Of course, it is hard but I like it more, more than UFC, more than MMA."
Khabib is a big fan of Ronaldo's old side Real Madrid and is also mates with Karim Benzema and another former Red Devil in Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The fighter also keeps an eye on Turkish side Galatasaray and his local Russian team Anzhi Makhachkala.
He added: "I have been watching football for a long time and I am not tired or bored of it at all.
"I might get bored of UFC sometimes. I used to watch all the fights but not now.
"I know all the football teams and clubs, I remember who won the UEFA Cup, Champions League, European Championships – I can even remember all [the] playing group compositions.
"The FIFA World Cup, which position he took, what was his name, all the goals – I know it for a fact."
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