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'Khabib deserves a lot of credit for that' - Chael Sonnen applauds The Eagle's decision to coach Luke Rockhold

Luke Rockhold (left); Khabib Nurmagomedov (right)
Luke Rockhold (left); Khabib Nurmagomedov (right)
Johny Payne
Modified 24 Mar 2021

Chael Sonnen has applauded Khabib Nurmagomedov’s decision to coach Luke Rockhold and believes that Nurmagomedov deserves a lot of credit for the same.

For years, former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov trained alongside Luke Rockhold, Daniel Cormier, and Cain Velasquez at the world-renowned American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) in San Jose, California.

Rockhold is a former UFC middleweight champion, while Cormier is a former UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight champion. Velasquez is a former UFC heavyweight champion too.

While Luke Rockhold used to train primarily at AKA, he’s lately been training at other notable MMA facilities as well, such as the RVCA gym under Jason Parillo and Sanford MMA under Henri Hooft.

Rockhold recently received an offer from longtime friend Khabib Nurmagomedov, whereby the latter asserted that he wants to train Rockhold ahead of his long-awaited UFC comeback fight.

On an episode of Beyond the Fight, MMA legend Chael Sonnen shed light upon Luke Rockhold recently revealing that Khabib Nurmagomedov has offered to coach him ahead of the 36-year-old's return to the Octagon.

Apart from directing words of high praise at Luke Rockhold, Chael Sonnen also acknowledged and appreciated Khabib Nurmagomedov’s willingness to transition into a coaching role. Sonnen stated –

“The mere fact that Khabib is ready to transition into a coaching role, a great coaching role, and take over in the footsteps of his father, it is so cool. Everything Khabib does is cool. I mean, I personally just find Khabib interesting, but I think that you guys too (find Khabib cool). But the things that he does and the way he’s able to keep himself grounded – Retired athletes in a large part have two things to look forward to in life, drugs and alcohol. It doesn’t end well.”
“But it doesn’t end well because they don’t have that next step, or that next step is so far down and removed that they can’t return to that high – Of having your name in lights, of walking out into an arena, of having absolute focus and dedication. That’s why they turn to substances.”
“That’s where you hear these (stories, like) Sugar Ray Leonard in some of these terrible stories, the Ricky Hatton stories, some of these terrible Lennox Lewis stories. But that’s why it happens. And for Khabib to be able to transition so smoothly into something, he doesn’t see this as a step-down. He wants to go out and do it at the highest of levels, with the best of fighters, and give them a championship run. It’s a very cool thing. It’s yet one more thing that Khabib has done that’s cool, that people can learn from.”
“He had the next step planned. And sure, he went out a little bit differently – Because he went out on his terms. You’re generally not gonna have that leg up, you’re generally not. I’ll bring Lennox back into it to give him a compliment. I’ll bring (Georges) St-Pierre in there, and then you have Khabib. You don’t have anybody but those three that I can name, who went through this (professional combat sports) but got to go out the way they wanted to go out. So, I’ll admit he had a benefit. But I’ll also admit that he’s taking his own name out of the spotlight. He’s reducing his role. He’s gonna be the guy behind the guy. And not only is he okay with that, he wants to do that. It’s one of the reasons you’re not gonna see that drugs and alcohol in Khabib’s future, you’re just not. He’s too levelheaded. He has a plan, he has a goal, he knows what he wants to do. In this case, it’s to give back. And you know what, Khabib deserves a lot of credit for that.” (*H/T Sportskeeda for the transcription)

Furthermore, Chael Sonnen explained that Luke Rockhold doesn’t receive enough credit for his skills and accomplishments in the sport of MMA.

Sonnen added that Luke Rockhold would be better off not competing in a main event matchup in his first fight back. He noted that Rockhold ought to ease his way back into the Octagon and compete in a three-round fight rather than a five-round headlining matchup.

Luke Rockhold looks to return to winning ways after a crushing loss to Jan Blachowicz

Jan Blachowicz (left); Luke Rockhold (right)
Jan Blachowicz (left); Luke Rockhold (right)

Luke Rockhold is currently on a two-fight losing streak. Rockhold’s most recent fight was a second-round KO loss against Jan Blachowicz at UFC 239 in July 2019, and the fight was Luke Rockhold’s debut in the light heavyweight division.

Following the brutal knockout loss, Luke Rockhold is yet to return to the Octagon. That said, with Rockhold claiming that he’d like to fight again sooner rather than later, Khabib Nurmagomedov working as his coach could indeed be a realistic possibility.


Do you believe Luke Rockhold would benefit under the guidance of coach Khabib Nurmagomedov? Sound off in the comments.

Published 24 Mar 2021, 14:17 IST
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