UFC Champ’s Career Uncertain After Tragedy: ‘I Don’t Know What’s Gonna Happen’

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Last week, UFC lightweight Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov’s father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, died of complications from COVID-19. Abdulmanap was 57. The Eagle was very close to his father, who was also his trainer, and according to the champion’s longtime training partner, Khabib is having difficulties dealing with the loss.

Former UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier has trained with Khabib for years at San Jose’s American Kickboxing Academy.

On Tuesday, Cormier spoke with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani. As transcribed by Bloody Elbow, Cormier said, “I talked to the champ — my champion, our champion, AKA’s champion — on Wednesday about everything. And he was having difficulties dealing with all this. The training makes him feel better, but it would be very difficult for the champ to fight under those circumstances.”

The former two-division champ then told Helwani that he wasn’t sure what would happen with Khabib. Cormier said, “Now, I don’t know what’s gonna happen. I really don’t. It’s such a big part of who he is. I don’t know what he’s gonna be able to do without his dad.”

Next in line to fight The Eagle is interim lightweight champ Justin Gaethje to unify the title. A Fall bout between the two men has been considered by the UFC, but after Khabib’s family tragedy, it’s unclear when the Russian fighter will compete next.

Cormier’s discussion with Helwani can be watched below:

DC & Helwani pay tribute to Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov | ESPN MMADaniel Cormier tells the story of the first time he met Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, the father of UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nuramagomedov. DC and Ariel Helwani describe the impact he had on MMA in Dagestan and the world as a whole. #UFC #ESPNMMA ✔ For more UFC, sign up for ESPN+ plus.espn.com/ufc ✔ Get the ESPN…2020-07-06T23:14:53Z

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Cormier Shared a Touching Tribute to Adulmanap & Khabib

After Abdulmanap’s passing, Cormier posted a tribute on social media. In the post, Cormier wrote:

My brother Khabib, I am praying for you and your family. Your father leaves such a tremendous legacy behind. Every time I was around him, I could see how proud he was of you. You showed him some amazing things, my brother. He trained you to be a fighter and you got there. I love you, my brother. Hug your mom, hug your wife and children and know you have a ton of support around the world during this tough time. Everyone else, please swipe right. This video shows who Abdulmanap was, as he wrestled one of my youth wrestlers before UFC 187. He would wrestle anyone, big or small. It’s a memory I’ll never forget. Rest In Peace, Abdulmanap. One day we will all meet again.

Next UFC Event: UFC 251 Which Features 3 Title Fights

On July 11, the UFC will debut on Fight Island — Yas Island, located in Abu Dhabi. The stacked fight card will feature three title fights. UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman will defend his title against No. 3 ranked Jorge Masvidal. Masvidal took the fight on less than a week’s notice after No. 1 ranked Gilbert Burns was pulled from the fight. Burns tested positive for COVID-19.

In addition to the welterweight main event, featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski will take on former-champ Max Holloway in a rematch. Volkanovski took Holloway’s title in December, and the highly-anticipated rematch will likely produce fireworks. Henry Cejudo’s vacant bantamweight title is also on the line. Former featherweight champion Jose Aldo will fight Petr Yan.

UFC 251 features 13 bouts, and the matches can be viewed below:

Main Card (ESPN+ PPV)
Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal
Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway
Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo
Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas
Amanda Ribas vs. Paige VanZant

Preliminary Card (ESPN/ESPN+)
Volkan Oezdemir vs. Jiri Prochazka
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Muslim Salikhov
Makwan Amirkhani vs. Danny Henry
Leonardo Santos vs. Roman Bogatov

Early Preliminary Card (ESPN+/UFC Fight Pass)
Marcin Tybura vs. Alexander Romanov
Raulian Paiva vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov
Karol Rosa vs. Vanessa Melo
Martin Day vs. Davey Gran

READ NEXT: Joe Rogan Tears Up During Emotional UFC 250 Interview [WATCH]

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