Daniel Cormier was caught off guard upon hearing the news of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s planned October return.
Nurmagomedov, who holds the UFC lightweight title, is scheduled to take on interim champion Justin Gaethje in a title unification bout on Oct. 24. The bout will headline UFC 254. This will be “The Eagle’s” first bout since Sept. 2019.
Daniel Cormier ‘Taken Aback’ By Khabib’s October Return
Cormier spoke to MMAJunkie and he admitted he didn’t anticipate his American Kickboxing Academy teammate to be back this fall.
“I was a little nervous initially,” Cormier told MMA Junkie. “Not nervous, I was taken a little aback. After I did the show (for ESPN talking about it) I had heard that Khabib was looking more at getting going sooner than later. So, when the announcement was made, it didn’t surprise me because I had an inclination it was going 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.”
Prior to the announcement of Khabib vs. Gaethje, Cormier expressed his belief that Khabib may never return to the Octagon due to the death of his father. At the very least, “DC” didn’t expect Khabib to get back to the action this year.
Nurmagomedov doesn’t have an easy opponent upon his return. Gaethje is riding a four-fight winning streak. In that span, he’s beaten Tony Ferguson, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, Edson Barboza, and James Vick. All of those wins have come by way of knockout or TKO.
Of course, Nurmagomedov is on a massive winning streak. He’s unbeaten with a pro MMA record of 28-0.