KHABIB Nurmagomedov showered his friend and coach Daniel Cormier with praise ahead of his title-defending bout against Derrick Lewis at UFC 230.
Cormier, 39, was making the first defence of his UFC heavyweight title on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.
He successfully defended his title with a second-round submission of his opponent.
And ahead of the fight, Khabib shared a picture of the veteran fighter with his 13.1 million Instagram followers, along with a heartfelt good luck message to his American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) teammate.
“Let’s go @dc_mma,” he wrote. “I know you for a long time, you are the real captain of our #akateam.”
He went on: “You are the CHAMP inside the cage and outside the cage.”
“You are the CHAMP inside the cage and outside the cage”
Khabib Nurmagomedov to Daniel Cormier
It had been four months since Cormier took the belt after knocking out Stipe Miocic.
His opponent, Lewis, was the bigger fighter, but the underdog on the night for Saturday’s setpiece event, which kicked off at around 4.15am Sunday morning UK time.
Cormier was ringside as his longtime friend Khabib defeated Conor McGregor in the blockbuster encounter at October’s UFC 229.
And he discussed the massive brawl which followed the fight when the Russia-born fighter climbed out of the Octagon and fought with McGregor’s coaching crew.
Afterwards, Cormier said he thought McGregor had been playing up the rivalry between the two for the cameras, while Nurmagomedov had taken the row to heart.
Speaking on The MMA Hour, he compared the feud between the two to his own long-running rivalry with UFC legend Jon Jones.
“Jones and I never regretted anything we said to each other or about each other,” he said.
“That’s the difference between us and Khabib and McGregor.”
Cormier shared a picture on Twitter standing outside Madison Square Gardens.
He tweeted: “Thank you all for the continued support. I love and appreciate each and every one of you. Let’s go and do what we do, win!”
Recently, Daily Star Online reported fans were furious that Jon Jones could return for UFC 230 after accepting a doping ban.
But it has been claimed UFC president Dana White said the former champ “wasn’t in shape” to headline the event, and won’t return until UFC 232 on Saturday 29 December.