Daniel Cormier has changed his tune on who should be next in line for the lightweight title next after UFC 268.

When Islam Makhachev (21-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC) ran through Dan Hooker for a first-round submission at UFC 267, an excited Cormier said his teammate should be next in line for a title shot regardless of the outcome between Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler at UFC 268.

But after Gaethje (23-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) defeated Chandler (22-7 MMA, 1-2 UFC) in a “Fight of the Year” contender this past Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York, Cormier retracted his statement.

“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. “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.”

Regarding Makhachev, Cormier now expects him to have to notch at least one more win before getting a shot at gold. But the former UFC dual-champ is not worried about the dominant Dagestani force.

“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.”

Lightweight champion Charles Oliveira, who beat Chandler earlier this year to win the belt vacated by Khabib Nurmagomedov, puts his title on the line against former interim champ Dustin Poirier at UFC 269 on Dec. 11.


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