Nurmagomedov, the reigning UFC lightweight champion, lost his father earlier this month. Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov died after a long battle with complications caused by COVID-19. Khabib was expected to unify the lightweight title with interim champ Justin Gaethje in the fall, but with Abdulmanap’s death, those plans would seem to be up in the air.
Cormier, a friend and teammate of Khabib’s at American Kickboxing Academy, understands the bond that Khabib had with his father and isn’t so sure fans will see him fight in 2020.
“I don’t think he’s fighting this year, honestly,” Cormier told ESPN on Monday. “And it’s gong to take a lot of strength from a very strong man for Khabib to be back in the octagon, ever. I just know what Abdulmanap meant to him, and I know that this was their journey together.
“I knew right away that Khabib wasn’t going to (come back in September). … It’s going to be too difficult. It’s going to be too difficult. Khabib is dealing with something that’s so difficult and so tough. And like we spoke a couple of weeks ago, him and his dad’s relationship is so much different. He was everything to him, and now he’s gone, so it’s going to be awhile before we see Khabib.
“And I love my brother, and I hope he takes as much times as he needs because it’s just a different situation for Khabib and his dad as opposed to most people. So don’t rush yourself back in there, take your time. So we don’t get Khabib in September. OK, we get (Israel Adesanya) vs. (Paulo Costa), which is a phenomenal fight. You know what else I love? Dana White saying, ‘Take as much time as you want,’ because Dana is fully aware of the relationship Khabib had with his father. He understands that you can’t ask a guy like Khabib to do this thing without coming to terms with everything that he has lost in his life now. So I support him taking some time. He needs it.”
Earlier this month, White said he’d give Khabib whatever time he needed to mourn the death of his father before returning to competition. In an interview published by The National on Monday, White said that Nurmagomedov would likely fight when the UFC returns to Abu Dhabi later this year.
Khabib’s father was one of his main coaches, along with Javier Mendez. He was present for some of Khabib’s biggest accomplishments. Cormier can’t imagine what Khabib, one of the UFC’s biggest stars and highest paid fighters, is going through and wouldn’t rule out retirement.
“I hope he fights, but I don’t know. I don’t know,” Cormier said. “Like I said, he’s going to have to muster up a lot of strength for an already strong person to go out there and do it. And if he does, I just don’t know how long he’ll be around. Maybe he fights and honors his father with another massive and unbelievable performance. But I look back at his fight in September (2019), and when he won, the way his dad reacted it almost … you saw the video when his dad reacts after he won against Dustin Poirier, and it was almost like his spirit was filled with joy watching his kid do that. I’m just happy they got to share that together.”
Original article: https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/2020/07/ufc-daniel-cormier-unsure-khabib-nurmagomedov-fights-after-fathers-death/