Daniel Cormier Pitches Surprise Next Opponent For Islam Makhachev Instead Of Oliveira Or Gaethje

UFC Lightweight Champion Islam Makhachev moved a step closer to unrivaled greatness at 155 pounds this past weekend in Abu Dhabi, where he extended his reign with a second successful defense.

Makhachev’s triumph at UFC 294 came against the man against whom he also recorded a first title retention at the expense of. Eight months on from a narrow decision triumph over Alexander Volkanovski, the Dagestani ran it back with the featherweight kingpin on short notice following the withdrawal of Charles Oliveira.

The Australian’s late trip to the UAE was ultimately an unfruitful one, with “Alexander the Great” falling victim to a picture-perfect head kick inside the very first round of the October 21 main event.

While Volkanovski licks his wounds and returns to the division that he’s ruled over since 2019, Makhachev will turn his attention to the next challenge in his lightweight rule.

By all accounts, former champion and originally planned UFC 294 opponent Oliveira and ‘BMF’ titleholder Justin Gaethje appear to be the two options for Makhachev and the promotion.

One former two-division titleholder, however, sees things differently…

Cormier Backs McGregor For Title Shot Against Makhachev

During a recent episode of ESPN MMA’s DC & RC show, ex-light heavyweight and heavyweight UFC champ Daniel Cormier assessed his fellow American Kickboxing Academy standout’s future following last Saturday’s numbered event.

For “DC,” an option that makes perfect sense is Conor McGregor.

“I think Islam should fight Conor McGregor next,” Cormier said. “You have to listen… It’s built in. It’s the biggest money fight the UFC could make. And, why not? You have Islam Makhachev, who looks to be a guy that’s gonna be a dominant champion. In order to have that dominant champion go to the next level of superstardom, you need a guy that can elevate him. The guy that can elevate him to that level is Conor McGregor.

“Look at what beating Conor McGregor did for Dustin Poirier. Look at what it did for Khabib Nurmagomedov. And we’re not even talking about all the other levels at which this just makes sense,” Cormier continued. “You have Islam fighting Conor after the issues Conor has had with Khabib. You have Islam fighting Conor, the biggest star in mixed martial arts coming back to the UFC… It makes sense!”

McGregor no longer boasts a spot in the lightweight rankings, having not competed since suffering a gruesome broken leg against Dustin Poirier in July 2021. After entering the USADA testing pool earlier this month, the Irishman is expected to make his return in the first half of 2024.

The plan for McGregor’s comeback has long been a clash with ex-Bellator kingpin Michael Chandler, who coached opposite “The Notorious” star on this year’s edition of The Ultimate Fighter.

But for Cormier, the history that McGregor boasts with Makhachev’s friend and mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov, as well as the opportunity to develop the Dagestani into a ‘superstar’, makes the former ‘champ-champ’ a more compelling matchup.

Please provide transcription credit with a link to this article if you use any of these quotes.

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