Daniel Cormier Addresses Rumors of Khabib Nurmagomedov Returning at UFC 300

Nurmagomedov UFC 229
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12: Khabib Nurmagomedov of Russia reacts against Michael Johnson of the United States in their lightweight bout during the UFC 205 event at Madison Square Garden on November 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images )

If you were among the many fans let down by rumors of Khabib Nurmagomedov returning to the Octagon for UFC 300, then you might want to sit down. 

According to the former lightweight champion’s longtime teammate and friend Daniel Cormier, a check worth tens of millions of dollars couldn’t convince Khabib Nurmagomedov to end his retirement.

While speaking to Ben Askren on his YouTube channel, Cormier claimed that Khabib Nurmagomedov turned down a $40 million offer to fight again.

“Khabib told us he turned down $40 million…That dude said $40 million to come back – to fight in the UFC. I don’t know how many fights he was meaning. I don’t know what he meant. But he just said, ‘I turned away $40 million, brother. I’m done.’ I don’t know what would prompt him to come back if he was turning that type of money away two years ago.”

While both Cormier and Askren doubt that “The Eagle” makes a comeback, the former double champ does feel that Nurmagomedov is the most realistic inactive big name that could return for UFC 300 to inject star power the same way Brock Lesnar did for UFC 200. 

“He’s [Brock Lesnar] too old to headline. Ronda Rousey does not seem to have any desire to fight again. Khabib seems like the most reasonable or closest choice of someone that could come back and make that impact,” Cormier said.

Speculation about the Dagestani coming back to compete began immediately after his abrupt retirement following his third title defense and has yet to slow in the three years since. Even with his friend and protege Islam Makhachev now holding the championship that he vacated, the promotion, fans, and several fighters have kept their fingers crossed hoping for Nurmagomedov to compete again.  

Here are several names that have been attached to the years’ worth of rumors. 

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor 2

UFC 229 Conor McGregor Khabib Nurmagomedov
(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

Even though their UFC 229 headliner was largely a one-sided affair, the sheer magnitude of the event means that somebody wants to see Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor run it back. Considering that it remains the biggest pay-per-view success in the promotions history means that Endeavor would roll out the red carpet for a rematch.

The shared animosity and embarrassing loss undoubtedly fueled several of McGregor’s Twitter rants in which he clung to moments of slight success while demanding a do-over.  AKA head coach Javier Mendez once claimed that Nurmagomedov intently watched the McGregor and Dustin Poirier rematch at UFC 257 in hopes of “something spectacular” that would lure him back in. McGregor’s second round knockout loss left him underwhelmed and nailed the coffin of that potential bout.

Also Read: UFC 297: Sean Strickland favored in first title defense

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

floyd mayweather
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Conor McGregor may have kicked off the wave of crossover combat sports events with his 2017 boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. However, his heated rival was once rumored to continue that trend with none other than “Money” Mayweather himself. 

While the “retired” undefeated pugilist sought more personalities outside of the confines of traditional boxing to keep the gravy train rolling, Khabib Nurmagomedov was offered the chance to test himself in the squared circle. 

Just before the COVID-induced collapse of the fifth booking against Tony Ferguson, “The Eagle” stated that Saudi Arabian officials were adamant about putting together a money fight with Mayweather. The following year Ali Abdelaziz, Nurmagomedov’s manager, once claimed that his client turned down a $100 million offer to face the former unified champion.

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Georges St. Pierre

Georges St-Pierre

In the same interview where Abdelaziz spilled the beans about a nine figure offer to fight Mayweather, he also revealed that offers were put on the table to face fellow UFC great Georges St. Pierre. 

After vacating the middleweight title soon after snatching it from Michael Bisping at UFC 217, GSP entertained a run at the lightweight division which would have put him on a collision course with Nurmagomedov. Even when both men opted to hang up on the gloves, the buzz surrounding a potential fight was still there. 

As recently as this past summer, a submission grappling match between the two was proposed but never came to fruition. 

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Leon Edwards

Leon Edwards
Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

In the hunt for a huge name to put on the marquee for UFC 300, speculation about Nurmagomedov returning as a welterweight to challenge Leon Edwards for the title began. Considering the attempts at pairing him with GSP and the unlikelihood of Khabib returning to 155 after noticeably putting on size during his downtime, the idea had some vague sense of merit. 

Whether it was a case of fantasy being projected into headlines, disinterest from either fighter, or the UFC choosing to go the conventional route, Edwards is instead scheduled to fight Belal Muhammad. Even though that lacks the casual box office appeal of a returning star, denying Muhammad in the midst of his 10-fight unbeaten streak would be criminal.

Also Read: A Timeline of Sean Strickland’s Descent into Madness ahead of UFC 297

Ant Walker is a native of the Washington DC area that now lives in Los Angeles. He has been... More about Anthony Walker

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