Watch: Daniel Cormier and Khabib Nurmagomedov engage in friendly ‘Battle of the Champions’

Daniel Cormier

UFC Hall of Famers Khabib Nurmagomedov and Daniel Cormier had a little fun on the mat recently.

As most MMA fans know, ‘The Eagle’ and DC have been close friends with one another for quite some time. Training together at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, the two UFC icons rose to the top of their respective divisions side-by-side with Nurmagomedov capturing the UFC lightweight just three months before Cormier would become the promotion’s heavyweight champion. Today, both fighters are retired and enjoying life away from the Octagon, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like to hit the gym and test their skills against one another from time to time.

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In a video uploaded by AKA coach Javier Mendez, Daniel Cormier and Khabib Nurmagomedov can be seen grappling with one another at the legendary gym. Nurmagomedov appears to be in control through the majority of the interaction, working on a triangle choke before attempting a transition to an arm bar. Before long, Cormier is able to turn into ‘The Eagle’ and get top control, but it’s quite clear that the two are just having some fun at the gym in the 65-second clip.

Daniel Cormier and Khabib Put Their Grappling Skills to the Test in a Friendly Battle

“Yes Khabib grew up wrestling an occasional bear, now he seems to have found one at AKA named Daniel Cormier,” read the video’s caption. “All in good fun what do you expect the outcome to be?”

Just as they rose through the rankings together, they walked away from competition within weeks of each other. In August 2020, Daniel Cormier retired following a unanimous decision loss to general consensus heavyweight GOAT Stipe Miocic at UFC 252. Just two months later at UFC 254, Nurmagomedov defended his lightweight title for the third time before announcing that he would be retiring, thus vacating the 155-pound title in the process.

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Though Cormier had already built his legacy as a former two-division world champion, ‘The Eagle’ was still in the process of making his mark when he decided to walk away from it all. As we all know, Nurmagomedov was far from done though. Instead of carrying on as the promotion’s lightweight king, he helped to crown a new world champion in protege Islam Makhachev.