Morning report: Daniel Cormier: Khabib Nurmagomedov explained why he used a triangular choke to defeat Justin Gaethje at UFC 254


Last weekend at UFC 254, Khabib Nurmagomedov successfully defended his lightweight title with a second round submission from Justin Gaethje. It was Nurmagomedov’s most impressive performance against the opponent that most people considered his most difficult challenge possible, but apparently it was even more impressive than it looked. While the myriad of issues Nurmagomedov faced in preparing for this fight, including a case of mumps and a broken toe, the lightweight champion also decided he would do his best not to injure Gaethje, but just to achieve victory.

Speaking on his DC and Helwani On Monday, friend and teammate Daniel Cormier relayed a conversation he had with Khabib in which the champion explained why he opted for the submission of the mounted triangle instead of using the ground and the pound or an armband.

“I spoke to Khabib yesterday and we were talking about it and I want to make sure I say it the right way,” Cormier said. “He told me that when he was watching the interviews during the week, he saw that Justin said he would never type. Justin would never type. So when he was going to submission – this is his dad’s favorite submission, get in a raised position, step into the armband, step into the triangle. He said it was his dad’s favorite submission so when he got there he was going to do the armband but he had heard Justin all week say he would never hit and he didn’t want to hurt him in front his parents, so he went into the triangle and just put him to sleep.

“He actually told me. He said, “I didn’t mean to hurt him in front of his parents, so I said I’m going to go put him in a triangle. And if he falls asleep, he falls asleep, you wake up, you’re fine. That’s exactly what he told me. Crazy, isn’t it? He didn’t want to hurt Justin in front of his parents. Being comfortable enough to think about it in the moment is crazy. He didn’t want to break his arm because if Justin doesn’t want to hit you have to break him. And he didn’t want to do that to Justin in front of his mom and dad. So if I put him to sleep, he will wake up and everything will be fine.

It’s a touching feeling and one that takes on added significance given the tragedy suffered by Nurmagomedov earlier this year when his father, Abdulmanap, died of complications from COVID-19. Khabib was particularly close to his father and after his victory on Saturday the champion retired from the sport, citing the death of his father and a promise he made to his mother. And while everyone can respect Khabib’s decision, it’s also impossible not to think about what could have been for a champion who still seems to be doing better.

“It sucks because it looks like he’s getting more and more dominant,” Cormier said. “Before, there were a lot of decisions. Kamal Shalorus and Gleison Tibau. People say, “Well he lost a round to Gleison Tibau! Yeah, when he was 1-0 in the UFC. He was 1-0 and Gleison Tibau had fought everyone. This speaks to the level of competition that Khabib got right away. Kamal Shalorus is an Olympian and Khabib had to fight him in his first UFC fight. It’s the level of competition he’s had and if you want to knock him down for that, you’re out of your mind. This guy was at the top and fought tough guys from start to finish. But gradually, his three title defenses, everything ends! All finishes. Finished Conor McGregor, Finished Dustin Poirier, and Finished Justin Gaethje, and they went faster. Fourth round, third round, second round. He was only getting better and he goes to the top of the sport.

Extremely not crazy. Jon Jones hits Khabib Nurmagomedov fans: “15-4, and you mean the GOAT?

Fight. Michael Chandler calls for fight with Justin Gaethje following Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement

Surprise. Javier Mendez had no idea Khabib Nurmagomedov was going to retire at UFC 254, addresses the weigh-in controversy.

Rematch. Robert Whittaker expects to have “some stuff” ready for Israel Adesanya’s rematch.

Broken. Jared Cannonier reports broken arm in UFC 254 loss to Robert Whittaker.

Free fights.

The fight for the title of the best Bellator continued.

Chandler calls Gaethje.

The fighters talk about the injuries they suffered.

On the next one. Matchmaking for UFC after UFC 254.

Le Co-Main Event. Discussion on UFC 254 and Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement.

It kind of feels like Tony Ferguson has no idea what’s been going on in the past 10 months.

Izzy brings up Jon Jones’ frantic arguments for GOAT.

Gilbert Burns comes from bodying Jon.

Lauren Murphy firmly arguing that no matter what she loses, give her the next chance.

It might work.

Izzy will be there to see Anderson’s last fight.

Austin Vanderford (9-0) c. Chris Curtis (22-8); Bellator 251, November 5.

Mikuru Asakura (13-1, 1 NC) contre Yutaka Saito (18-4-2); Rizin 25, nov. 21

Hiromasa Ougikubo (20-5-2) contre Kenta Takizawa (11-5); Rizin 25, nov. 21

Thanks for reading and see you tomorrow!


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