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Why were Khabib Nurmagomedov, Daniel Cormier, Cain Velasquez, and Luke Rockhold known as the 'Four Kings'?

UFC 205: Nurmagomedov v Johnson
UFC 205: Nurmagomedov v Johnson
Sayan Nag
Modified 22 Mar 2021

Khabib Nurmagomedov, Daniel Cormier, Cain Velasquez and Luke Rockhold are known as the 'Four Kings' as they are the four UFC champions produced by the American Kickboxing Academy.

Daniel Cormier, who describes himself and the previously-mentioned names as the Four Kings, had Cain Velasquez by his side since he ventured into the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, after his Olympic stint in 2008. Soon, he was joined by Luke Rockhold and others who became staples of the academy. The last champion to have emerged under the tutelage of head coach Javier Mendez was Khabib Nurmagomedov, who also shares a great camaraderie with Daniel Cormier.

The first champion to come out of the American Kickboxing Academy was Cain Velasquez. Velasquez brought home the title after dethroning the UFC heavyweight champion, Brock Lesnar. Lesnar, who entered the Octagon for his third title defense, was battered by Velasquez in 4:12 of the very first round at UFC 121.

The American Kickboxing Academy saw two more champions emerge in 2015, as Luke Rockhold and Daniel Cormier grabbed the middleweight and light-heavyweight titles respectively. Daniel Cormier hoisted his first UFC gold after defeating Anthony 'Rumble' Johnson at UFC 187. Later that year, Luke Rockhold would upset the unbeaten record of former champion Chris Wiedman, to grab the UFC middleweight title.

Daniel Cormier moved down a weight class out of respect for Cain Velasquez and chose to go for the heavyweight title after Velasquez retired. DC would go on to shock the world with a first-round TKO of Stipe Miocic in the UFC 226 headliner. While this made DC the second double champion in UFC history, Cormier would go on to defend his heavyweight title against Derrick Lewis at UFC 230, becoming the first ever fighter to defend both titles.

Khabib Nurmagomedov became the latest addition to AKA's list of UFC champions after picking up the vacant lightweight title against Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. Khabib Nurmagomedov went on to become the longest reigning lightweight champion and retired with a perfect 29-0 record.

Daniel Cormier thinks a fifth king is in the making

The American Kickboxing Academy has been home to four UFC champions and many believe that a fifth is being cultivated at the gym in San Jose, California. Khabib Nurmagomedov has never been shy of his championship aspirations for his teammate, Islam Makhachev. Along with Khabib, Javier Mendez and Daniel Cormier also seem to share that belief. Speaking of Makhachev, DC told ESPN -

"For 10 straight years, we've had title fights out of AKA. How do we continue that? Islam is the guy. We all believe right now Islam is our next best chance to have someone great."
Published 22 Mar 2021, 18:39 IST
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