Daniel Cormier: Islam Makhachev should become villain, fight Dustin Poirier next

Add Daniel Cormier to the list of fighters who think Dustin Poirier should get the next shot at Islam Makhachev.

Poirier is just the kind of name that Makhachev needs to cement himself as a bonafide octagon star, the former two-division UFC champ said Wednesday on his video podcast.

“For Islam to get to where he truly needs to be as a champ, he’s got to have those familiar names on his resume, or at least have competition with them,” Cormier said.

Cormier, of course, is not entirely unbiased in his pick for the next lightweight title fight. Lightweight champ Makhachev is a former training partner at his longtime gym, American Kickboxing Academy, and Poirier is from his hometown of Lafayette, La.

Prior to his big UFC 299 win over Benoit Saint Denis, Poirier said one big win could qualify him for a title shot. Afterward, he called out Makhachev, who brushed him off as his next challenge contender in a way that many champs do to their next contenders.

Cormier thinks Makhachev may be more interested than he let on.

“When Conor McGregor was Conor McGregor, he knocked out Jose Aldo to be the champion. It was an amazing tool to spring him into superstardom. Because by that point, it didn’t matter who he fought at lightweight. He was already a star because he had just beaten the greatest featherweight of all time in the manner in which he did it.

Then when he left, the [featherweight] belt needed to be contested. Who did they put out there? Frankie Edgar, former champion, Jose Aldo, former champion, because the names are recognized. [Max] Holloway beat Jose Aldo. It meant much more for Max Holloway, in terms of becoming a star, to beat Jose Aldo than some random guy for the belt.”

Picking Poirier over other potential lightweight contenders could complicate things for others, such as Justin Gaethje, who knocked out Poirier in his previous fight and is now set to face Max Holloway at UFC 300. Another, former champ Charles Oliveira, is also booked for the April 13 mega-event against Arman Tsarukyan.

But according to Cormier, Poirier is “1000 percent a win-win situation for the UFC.”

“Because if Dustin Poirier wins, Dustin Poirier’s right back at the forefront of fighting by beating one of the more dominant champions. And if he loses, now you’re got a champion who just put two title defenses over Alexander Volkanovski in front of a win over Dustin Poirier, with Charles Oliveira or Arman Tsarukyan waiting in the wings, or Justin Gaethe if he can get past Holloway.

“Think of the run Makhachev could have if he’s able to put all these fights behind each other.”

Cormier said Makhachev’s diss of Cormier works perfectly as the spark for a pre-fight promotion cycle.

“I would steer into that if I’m the champion,” he said. “I would try to become the evil empire. I would try to become the villain. ‘The Rock’ right now is doing it in the WWE. That’s essentially what every one of these champions is when they work their way to the top. You’re the guy they have to get through in order to reach a goal they’ve dreamed of their entire lives.

“Islam needs to tell Dustin, ‘You’re never going to do it. You don’t belong on my level. You got here because there was no one else.’ That would make the people where he would fight hate him. That would make people run to support Dustin Poirier. But that would also make people care more. … And ultimately, that’s what’s important – nothing else.”

Check out the full video below.

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