From one champion to another, LeBron James said Conor McGregor "will be a champion for the rest of his life" in an inspiring tribute to the UFC star.
Undisputed featherweight champion McGregor's rise to the top of the UFC came to a dramatic and bloodied end on Saturday after he was stunned by rival Nate Diaz.
Stepping up two divisions, McGregor appeared on track for another win until he was overpowered and forced into submission in the second round at UFC 196 in Las Vegas.
It was the first loss of McGregor's UFC career but Cleveland Cavaliers star James - the winner of two NBA champions and four league MVPs - had words of encouragement for the beaten Irishman.
"Champions take lumps all the time," James told reporters.
"It doesn't make you less of a man. It doesn't make you less of a champion because you take an 'L'. It's not about how you react in the good of good, it's how you come back in the great [wake] of a loss or a defeat, when people say you're down.
"I think he's as strong as who he was before that. [Name] any champion that's went down. Probably the greatest champion ever in Muhammad Ali went down before. So, it doesn't matter."
James added: "We always get caught up in wins and losses. He will be a champion for the rest of his life and no one can take it away from him.
"It will always be a part of his resume. It will always be a part of what goes on with him and he's determined to continue to prove doubters wrong.
"He's built that throughout his career and he will continue to do that as I've seen some of his quotes after the fight."