Based on recent history, we’ve seen how Khabib Nurmagomedov deals with every opponent inside the cage. Show him respect and he’ll do the same, but slander his family and religion, and you’ll get an “Eagle” mauling.
With UFC 254 opponent Justin Gaethje, there was nothing but mutual respect and admiration towards each other’s skillset. So Khabib chose to utilize his grappling more than his ground-and-pound before putting “The Highlight” to sleep with a triangle choke.
But according to close teammate Daniel Cormier, there’s another reason why the undefeated Dagestani fighter chose to go that route. In a recent conversation ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, “DC” revealed a conversation he had with Khabib regarding UFC 254’s finish.
“He told me 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,” Cormier said. “So when he was going to the submission, he said it’s his dad’s favorite submission. Getting to the mounted position, going to the armbar, going to the triangle.
“So when he got there, he was gonna 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 goes, ‘I didn’t want to hurt him in front of his parents, so I said I’m gonna go and put him in a triangle, and then if he goes to sleep, you go to sleep, you wake up, you’re fine,’” he added.
Apart from the respectful attitude, Cormier was also amazed at how Khabib was present enough during those moments of combat to make such decisions on the fly.
“To be comfortable enough to think about this in the moment… that’s crazy,” he said. “He didn’t want to break his arm. Because if Justin’s not gonna tap, you have to break it. And he didn’t want to do that in front of his mom and dad.”
Khabib announced his retirement right after the fight, closing his illustrious career with an immaculate 29-0 record.