On Friday, boxing legend Muhammad Ali (pictured), considered by many as the world’s greatest fighter, passed at the age of 74 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Although Ali was never able to articulate his feelings about MMA by the time the sport became a major player in combat sports, many of MMA’s biggest superstars showed their appreciation for Ali and his contributions to fighting after news of his death was announced.
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'” – Muhammad Ali
Rest in peace to my biggest inspiration pic.twitter.com/gqIuuxSpC1
— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) June 4, 2016
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) June 4, 2016
# 1 athlete I looked up to was Muhammad Ali…
This is crazy that he's gone! Doesn't seem real at all.
— Anthony Johnson (@Anthony_Rumble) June 4, 2016
— Cris Cyborg (@criscyborg) June 4, 2016
— Frankie Edgar (@FrankieEdgar) June 4, 2016
— John Dodson III (@JohnDodsonMMA) June 4, 2016
— Jose Aldo Junior (@josealdojunior) June 4, 2016
Rest in Peace Muhammed Ali. Forever a fan.
— Shane Carwin (@ShaneCarwin) June 4, 2016
Ali changed the World. He was the Greatest! RIP Ali
— Marc Ratner UFC (@MarcRatnerUFC) June 4, 2016
— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) June 4, 2016
RIP an inspiration to so many… 🙏🏼😪 "He who is not courageous enough to take risks … https://t.co/ckUjzRF9mM
— Alan Jouban (@AlanJouban) June 4, 2016
— Dana White (@danawhite) June 4, 2016
A man who shook up the world has passed on to the next stage of existence. Muhammad Ali was one of the most unique and original forces in culture and one of the most spectacularly talented boxers that ever laced up the gloves. Every now and then as a fight fan I like to cue up his 1966 KO victory over Cleveland Big Cat Williams and become reminded of how special he truly was. As powerful a force as he was in the boxing ring he was arguably even more powerful and influential to his generation outside of it, stripped of his Heavyweight title during his prime and robbed of three years of his career because he refused to fight in the Vietnam war. All of that was taking place during the civil rights movement just a hundred years removed from slavery being legal. He was a real one of a kind, and we are all insanely lucky that we got a chance to watch him shine.
The two men challenging Ali as boxing’s greatest also expressed their condolences:
“Words can’t explain what Muhammad Ali (has) done for the sport of boxing,” Floyd Mayweather told ESPN. “He’s one of the guys that paved the way for me to be where I am today. We lost a legend, a hero and a great man.”
— Mike Tyson (@MikeTyson) June 4, 2016