Daniel Cormier has addressed concerns about potentially biased commentary during this weekend’s Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje fight.
Cormier, who previously held the UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight titles, is now a commentator for the promotion. He’ll be at the commentary desk for this weekend’s UFC 254 card, which will be topped by a lightweight title fight between the division’s undisputed champion Nurmagomedov, and its interim champion Justin Gaethje.
Cormier is a long-time friend and training partner of Nurmagomedov, which has some fans worried his commentary could lean in favor of the champion.
Speaking to the assembled media on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, where the fight will occur, Cormier addressed those concerns.
“As I move into the second phase of my life, it’s my job,” Cormier said ahead of the Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje fight (via MMA Fighting). “It wasn’t a decision made on a whim. It was a lot of people asking can Daniel do his job, and for me, I’ve called Islam makhachev fights, I’ve called Deron Winn fights, and I feel like I stayed down the middle as best I could. So I figured I could do it.
“It’s tough, because Khabib’s been there now for eight years at AKA, and we’ve seen him rise from the very beginning, but I’ve got a job to do, and that’s what I’m going to do Saturday.”
Cormier was in the building when Nurmagomedov fought his arch rival Conor McGregor in 2018, and actually helped defuse an infamous post-fight brawl between the pair’s teams. He admits that, in a grudge match like that, he might not have been emotionally equipped to call the action fairly. But because Nurmagomedov is fighting a competitor like Gaethje—who has been all class in the lead-up to the fight—Cormier doesn’t forecast any issues.
“Certain guys, if he fought, I couldn’t do the job,” he said. “I’m being honest. But I respect Justin so tremendously that I can do the job, because I like Justin so much. It’s hard to do it for someone that you know.
“To call Khabib and Conor with all the bad blood, I couldn’t have done that, because you’re so solely in your guy’s corner. But Justin’s a good guy.”
Do you think it’s fair for Daniel Cormier to be on commentary duty for the Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje fight at UFC 254?