Daniel Cormier expects UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira to be the betting favorite against Justin Gaethje, but one thing concerns him.

Oliveira (32-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) notched his first title defense by submitting Dustin Poirier at UFC 269 this past Saturday, coming up big as an underdog once again.

Waiting in the wings is former interim champ Gaethje (23-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC), who outlasted Michael Chandler in a “Fight of the Year” contender at UFC 268. The betting odds weren’t in favor of Oliveira in his finishes over Chandler and Poirier, but Cormier thinks it’s about time people stopped doubting the Brazilian.

“Justin Gaethje presents a lot of problems for him because he’s as tough and durable,” Cormier said on his ESPN show “DC & RC.” “But the reality is, Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje (have) a lot of similarities. Those guys went to war with each other very recently, so I don’t think we’re gonna be seeing Charles Oliveira as the underdog anymore.”

He continued, “Against Justin Gaethje, Charles has to be considered the favorite after all that he’s done.”

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However, in Oliveira’s wins over Chandler and Poirier, he was knocked down in the first round. Despite rallying back to get the finish over both men, Cormier thinks Oliveira has to be wary of Gaethje’s early storm and isn’t sure if he’ll be able to make it out of the first round against “The Highlight.”

“I just don’t know who’s favored to beat him anymore,” Cormier said. “I’m dead serious. Like, after watching him doing what he did, I don’t know. For as good as he looked, I don’t know how you choose against him. Now the one thing that could be a danger is that he does absorb a lot of damage. That’s why he was hurt against Chandler, and he was hurt against Dustin. I don’t know if you can take that damage early against a Justin Gaethje and live to talk about it.”

Gaethje has accused Oliveira of not having heart and quitting when facing adversity in fights, but he admitted that he saw a “dog” in him when he rallied to beat Poirier. He also acknowledged that Oliveira gets hit a lot and can’t wait to put him to the test when they square off for the title.


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