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Morning Report: Daniel Cormier: Khabib Nurmagomedov explained why he used a triangle choke to defeat Justin Gaethje at UFC 254

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UFC 229: Khabib v McGregor Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

This past weekend at UFC 254, Khabib Nurmagomedov successfully defended his lightweight title with a second round submission of Justin Gaethje. It was Nurmagomedov’s most impressive performance against the opponent most people viewed as his most difficult possible challenge, but apparently, it was even more impressive than it looked. If the myriad issues Nurmagomedov had during his preparation for this fight, including a case of mumps and a broken toe, the lightweight champion also decided he was going to do his best not to hurt Gaethje, but just to get the win.

Speaking on his DC and Helwani on Monday, friend and teammate Daniel Cormier relayed a conversation he had with Khabib wherein the champion explained why he went for the mounted triangle submission instead of using ground and pound or an armbar.

“I spoke to Khabib yesterday and we were talking about it and I want to make sure I say it the right way,” Cormier said. “He told me that when he was watching the interviews over the course of the week, he saw that Justin said he would never tap. Justin would never tap. So when he was going to the submission - it’s his dad’s favorite submission, get to the mounted position, go into the armbar, go into the triangle. He said it’s his father’s favorite submission, so when he got there, he was going to do the armbar but he had heard Justin all week saying he would never tap and he didn’t want to hurt him in front of his parents, so he went to the triangle and just put him to sleep.

“He actually told me that. He goes, ‘I didn’t want to hurt him in front of his parents, so I said I’m going to go and put him in a triangle. And if he goes to sleep, he goes to sleep, you wake up, you’re fine.’ This is exactly what he told me. That’s crazy, right? He did not want to hurt Justin in front of his parents. To be comfortable enough to think about this in the moment, that’s crazy. He didn’t want to break his arm because if Justin’s not going to tap, you have to break it. And he did not want to do that to Justin in front of his mom and dad. So if I put him to sleep, he’ll wake up and everything will be okay.”

It’s a touching sentiment and one that takes on an added significance given the tragedy Nurmagomedov suffered earlier this year when his father, Abdulmanap, passed away due to complications with COVID-19. Khabib was especially close with his father and following his win on Saturday, the champion retired from the sport, citing his father’s passing and a promise he made to his mother. And while everyone can respect Khabib’s decision, it’s also impossible not to think of what could have been for a champion who seems to still be getting better.

“It sucks, because it seems like he’s just getting more dominant,” Cormier said. “Before, there were a lot of decisions. Kamal Shalorus and Gleison Tibau. People are like, ‘Well, he lost a round to Gleison Tibau!’ Yeah, when he was 1-0 in the UFC. He was 1-0 and Gleison Tibau had fought everyone. That talks to the level of competition Khabib got right away. Kamal Shalorus is an Olympian and Khabib had to fight him in his first fight in the UFC. That’s the level of competition he had and if you’re gonna ding him for that, you’re out of your mind. This guy has been at the top and fighting tough guys from start to finish. But as it’s going on, his three title defenses, all finishes! All finishes. Finished Conor McGregor, finished Dustin Poirier, and finished Justin Gaethje, and they went faster. Fourth round, third round, second round. He was only getting better and he’s leaving at the top of the sport.”


Extremely not mad. Jon Jones jabs Khabib Nurmagomedov fans: ‘15-4, and you guys are talking about the GOAT?’

Fight. In the wake of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement, Michael Chandler calls for bout with Justin Gaethje

Surprise. Javier Mendez didn’t know Khabib Nurmagomedov was going to retire at UFC 254, addresses weigh-in controversy.

Rematch. Robert Whittaker expects to have ‘a couple of tricks’ ready for Israel Adesanya rematch.

Broke. Jared Cannonier reports broken arm in UFC 254 loss to Robert Whittaker.


Free fights.

Best Bellator title fights continued.

Chandler calling for Gaethje.

Fighters talking about injuries they’ve suffered.


On to the Next One. Matchmaking for the UFC following UFC 254.

The Co-Main Event. Discussing UFC 254 and Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement.


It kinda feels like Tony Ferguson has no idea what’s happened the last 10 months.

Izzy weighs in on Jon Jones’ frantic arguments for GOAT.

Gilbert Burns just bodying Jon.

Lauren Murphy making the strong argument that it doesn’t matter that she’ll lose, give her the next crack.

This could work.

Izzy will be there to see Anderson’s final fight.


Austin Vanderford (9-0) vs. Chris Curtis (22-8); Bellator 251, Nov. 5.

Mikuru Asakura (13-1, 1 NC) vs. Yutaka Saito (18-4-2); Rizin 25, Nov. 21

Hiromasa Ougikubo (20-5-2) vs. Kenta Takizawa (11-5); Rizin 25, Nov. 21


Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow!



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