Daniel Cormier believes UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is in for the toughest test of his career when he takes on Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 on October 24.
While Nurmagomedov recently suffered an immense loss when his father passed away due to COVID-19 complications, Cormier believes the lightweight champion will use this tragedy as motivation as he prepares to take on Gaethje.
“I think he’s going to fight his toughest opponent,” Cormier told Yahoo Sports of Nurmagomedov. “I think the vast majority of the world feels that this is the toughest guy for him at 155 [pounds]. I think he’ll be OK. His ability to train and prepare for this and continue to work toward the goal that him and his father had together will allow him to maybe come to terms with everything that’s happening around him.
“Sometimes you need distractions and you need motivations in different forms. I think Khabib will use [his father’s death] as motivation. He’s a professional. He’s a pro’s pro and he’s going to prepare himself to the best of his ability.”
Javier Mendez, a long-time coach of Nurmagomedov, will fly to Russia to help train the lightweight champion shortly after he corners Cormier against Stipe Miocic at UFC 252 this weekend.
Cormier believes that Nurmagomedov will benefit from being around his family in Russia and having another familiar face in Mendez being nearby.
“The team will prepare him to the best of his ability, but he’ll also be around his family who loves him, and now he’ll see Javier from here, another familiar face who will help him to get through a difficult time as he prepares to defend his title again,” Cormier said.
How do you think Khabib Nurmagomedov will perform against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 this October? Do you agree that this is the toughest test of the champion’s career?