Former two division UFC champion Daniel Cormier is a teammate of Khabib’s at American Top Team (ATT) and DC doesn’t know what Khabib’s future in MMA will look like after Abdulmanap’s passing.
“I don’t think he’s fighting this year, honestly,” Cormier said on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show (via Danny Segura of MMA Junkie). “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.”
There were reports that Nurmagomedov would defend the lightweight title against UFC Interim Lightweight Champion Justin Gaethje at UFC 253, but that bout is off the table at the moment due to Abdulmanap’s passing.
DC hopes that Nurmagomedov does fight again, but he is unsure if that will ever happen.
“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.”
Khabib has been relatively silent since Abdulmanap’s passing, but his agent in Ali Abdelaziz says Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje will still happen this year.