Daniel Cormier doesn’t have any issue with Dana White’s relentless approach to getting UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov back in the octagon.
Since Nurmagomedov (29-0 MMA, 13-0 UFC) retired from MMA in October following his second-round submission of Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, White has remained confident he can persuade the undefeated Russian to return, even despite Khabib’s promise to his mother that he would stop fighting after his father and coach Abdulmanap died.
White showed deflation about Nurmagomedov’s fighting prospects in the wake of Dustin Poirier’s knockout of Conor McGregor at UFC 257 in January, admitting that a comeback didn’t look likely following a meeting in Abu Dhabi. White has again changed course in recent days, though, and stated on Friday that he’s going to keep pushing until he gets an unequivocal no from “The Eagle.”
Dana White won’t stop chasing @TeamKhabib to fight until he hears, “Leave me alone. Stop asking me. I’m done.”
Full interview: https://t.co/CSPo26axst pic.twitter.com/VqAVp30ruE
— MMA Junkie (@MMAjunkie) February 12, 2021
Cormier, who is a good friend of Nurmagomedov and longtime training partner at San Jose’s American Kickboxing Academy, isn’t among those who believe White should stand down and let go. White has received some criticism from fans for his persistence, but Cormier said he approves.
“As a promoter, you have to do that,” Cormier told reporters, including MMA Junkie, on Friday following UFC 258 weigh-ins. “We have to understand that as a promoter, you have to get one of the biggest stars in your organization to try to fight. So if there is an inkling of a chance, you continue to press down that path (and) that’s what Dana’s doing.”
Part of White’s argument is that, despite Nurmagomedov publicly stating he’s not interested in fighting and willing to give up the 155-pound title at any point, he has not made the type of definitive statement that has the UFC boss convinced.
Nurmagomedov has agreed to a meeting with White sometime over the next month in Las Vegas, and Cormier said that could be as sign the door remains opened.
“(Khabib is) constantly going in there,” Cormier said. “So if he’s meeting with him, he’s talking to him. You don’t know. But Khabib’s respectful. If Dana White asks him to dinner, he will go. So you never know. I actually don’t spend much time thinking about it at this point.”
Although Cormier is trying to remain neutral in this situation, he can relay one bit of knowledge about Nurmagomedov that, in his mind, is unwavering. Cormier said Nurmagomedov is a man of his word, and if he’s already deciding fighting isn’t part of his future, he won’t go back on it.
“If it happens, it happens (and) if it doesn’t, it doesn’t,” Cormier said. “One thing I do know: If Khabib has his mind set on something, it ain’t going to change.”