Unlike others, Daniel Cormier doesn’t think teammate and UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will return to action this year.
Nurmagomedov was expected to unify his lightweight title with interim champion Justin Gaethje in a fight that was set to take place at UFC 253 on September 19. However, those plans don’t look like they will happen following the recent and unfortunate death of his father Abdulmanap.
Nurmagomedov was extremely close with his father who he idolized, and many have speculated as to whether he will fight again, let alone do it in September. His manager Ali Abdelaziz, for one, has claimed that he will be back later this year.
But Cormier isn’t so sure.
“I don’t think he’s fighting this year, honestly, and it’s going to take a lot of strength from a very strong man, for Khabib to be back in Octagon ever, I think,” Cormier told Ariel Helwani on Monday.
Could Nurmagomedov Never Fight Again?
If that is the case, a return in 2021 would surely be on the cards at the very least.
That said, Cormier isn’t sure if Nurmagomedov will return at all, especially after witnessing firsthand how close he was with his father.
“I just know what Abdulmanap meant to him and I know that this was their journey together,” Cormier added when asked if Nurmagomedov would ever fight again. “I hope he fights — I just don’t know. 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 and when he won and the way his dad reacted, it almost like you saw the video when his dad reacts after he won against Dustin Poirier, 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.”
"I don't think he's fighting this year, honestly, and it's going to take a lot of strength from a very strong man, for Khabib to be back in Octagon ever [again], I think."@dc_mma talks about what it will take for Khabib to return to fighting after the passing of his father. pic.twitter.com/PUroz9NugC
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 20, 2020
For now, all we can do is let Nurmagomedov grieve and make the decision for himself.