Inspired by NBA’s Best Kobe Bryant & LeBron James, Undefeated UFC 286 Star Makes Strong Statement: “It’s Going to Create Something Dangerous”

Published 03/18/2023, 4:00 PM EDT

The event the UFC community was eagerly waiting for is just hours away. The fans expect nothing less than a war between the opponents at UFC 286. Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman will lock horns for the welterweight belt, and Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev will go against each other in the co-main event. It often happens that fans get so excited about the main event that they forget about the interesting matchups on the preliminary and early prelim cards. For the early prelims, Christian Leroy Duncan is preparing himself for his UFC debut.

Duncan will compete in the middleweight division against Dusko Todorovic. Before signing with the UFC, Duncan served in the Cage Warriors, where he successfully earned a big name as an undefeated fighter. In CW, the 27-year-old became the middleweight champion, and at the moment, he wants to earn the same in the biggest promotion in the world. However, contrary to the expectations of the majority, the new UFC fighter has no MMA fighter who inspired him; instead, his biggest inspirations are the NBA legends.

The biggest inspiration of Christian Leroy Duncan


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Duncan was sharing his thoughts at Wednesday’s media day for UFC 286, When asked about his biggest inspirations, the 27-year-old accepted that when he started to take serious MMA training, he observed the moves of current ONE flyweight champion, Demetrious Johnson, to have a deeper understanding of the sport. Nonetheless, more than any other UFC fighter, it is the legendary basketball players Kobe Bryant and LeBron James that became his inspiration.

via Getty

During the UFC 286 media day, a reporter asked Duncan, “You’ve actually mentioned figures like LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant, who were actually influential. How have they influenced your mindset and attitude toward learning MMA?”

The undefeated fighter revealed, “When I was younger and I first started playing basketball around 14, it was more their style. The flash of Kobe and the dominance of LeBron, I like the creativity – Kobe with the fadeaway shots, the footwork, and LeBron, just the overall dominance, going into the paint, finishing on top of guys.

The change that came with time

Duncan went on to explain the change in him. Now it’s no more the style he admires the most, it is the mindset of the athletes. “But now I’ve kind of evolved and matured. It’s more the mindset of the guys now, as well; so Kobe’s attention to training and the details, and then LeBron’s mindset toward recovery and how important your body is.”


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Duncan continued, “As I’ve grown, I’ve kind of looked at other aspects of sports in general. It’s going to create something dangerous.”

The 27-year-old further explained the important role played by the mind in taking a player to new heights.


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What do you think of the statement made by the undefeated fighter? Let us know in the comments below.

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Priyanka is a UFC writer at EssentiallySports. She has been an ardent fan of the UFC since 2018. She is passionate when it comes to writing about the sport and this is evident in her articles.

Edited By: Vineet Nandwana