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Daniel Cormier changes tune, says Justin Gaethje (not Islam Makhachev) should get next title shot

UFC 268: Gaethje v Chandler Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Justin Gaethje wasn’t too thrilled when he heard Daniel Cormier push for Islam Makhachev to get the next shot at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight title shortly after the bruising fighter submitted Dan Hooker at UFC 267 (see it again here).

According to “Highlight,” Cormier was being biased because Makhachev is his teammate at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA). Gaethje, though, further clouded the 155-pound title race after his stellar performance and win over Michael Chandler at UFC 268 last weekend (Sat., Nov. 6, 2021) in New York City (highlights).

That was good enough to prompt Cormier to change his tune and state that Gaethje made the case to get the next title fight in the division.

“Chandler came out throwing everything with 100 percent power, but Gaethje was just there and landing, answering and just really doing his thing,” Cormier said on his YouTube channel. (via MMA Junkie). “That whole thing with Justin Gaethje last weekend, I said what I felt and he took offense. But all week, not one second was Justin Gaethje mad at me, upset or approached me in an angry way.

“He spoke about it in that moment, and you know what? Last night he went out there and did what he had to do in order to ensure that he keeps his championship fight, because he fought Michael Chandler and beat Michael Chandler – a very trained, well-prepared Michael Chandler. So hat’s off to Justin Gaethje, and honestly, I believe that he will be the guy to fight for the belt next.”

As far as Makhachev is concerned, Cormier says he will likely have to fight again to preserve his shot at 155-pound gold. That said, “D.C.” still doesn’t see anyone taking him out on his way to the Promised Land.

“Islam will have to fight again, and that’s OK because I believe that Islam will be able to handle just about any challenges in front of him,” Cormier said. “You have to, right? If you’re going to be the champ, you have to.”

Current division kingpin, Charles Oliveira, will defend his title against Dustin Poirier in the main event of UFC 269 on Dec. 11, 2021, with Gaethje likely getting the winner sometime in mid-2022. As for Makhachev, he will likely get paired up against Beneil Dariush, the forgotten man in the division who is currently ranked No. 3 and is riding a highly-impressive seven-fight win streak.