Cormier and Nurmagomedov are good friends and teammates at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose. Cormier saw firsthand how closely the relationship between the Nurmagomedovs was, as it extended far beyond a father and son. He was also a trainer and a student, and Nurmagomedov not having that presence as a fight approached was perhaps too hard to strip away.
Cormier had previously expressed concerns about how quickly “The Eagle” would return to the Octagon. The lightweight title unification fight is now official with interim champion Gaethje, and Cormier said it was a good surprise to see Nurmagomedov get back to work so soon.
“I was a little nervous at first,” Cormier told MMA Junkie. “Not nervous, I was a little surprised. After doing the show (for ESPN to talk about), I had heard that Khabib was more looking to get going as soon as possible. So when the announcement was made it didn’t surprise me because I wanted it to happen. But I thought he would be away for a while. But nothing makes me happier than my champion coming back and defending his belt.
Cormier has an important fight ahead. He is scheduled to challenge Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight title in a trilogy scheduled for August 15 at UFC 252. Regardless of the outcome, Cormier has vowed to retire and move to a full-time role as broadcaster and analyst.
Cormier’s future will be for him to be on the edge of the cage to comment on some of the biggest fights the UFC has had. The emotion of watching Nurmagomedov compete, however, is difficult to manage and would also be a challenge to remain impartial.
Because of this, Cormier said he probably wouldn’t be in Nurmagomedov’s stand against Gaethje at UFC 254.
“I’ll probably take a step back,” Cormier said.