Daniel Cormier gives advice to Ilia Topuria after ‘not coming off great’ in booking first title defense

As a former two-division UFC champion, Daniel Cormier understands a thing or two about leverage — which is why he wants to pass some along some wisdom to one of the promotion’s newest champions.

Ilia Topuria captured the UFC featherweight title at February’s UFC 298 event when he knocked out Alexander Volkanovski in the second round. Topuria’s first title defense has not been announced, but since winning the title, he’s tried to call the shots with who, and who doesn’t deserve the opportunity, what should be on the line, and other stipulations.

Cormier sent some advice Topuria’s way in regards to a fight with “BMF” champ Max Holloway, or a rematch against Volkanovski.

“I think Ilia Topuria needs to come right out and say, ‘Hey, I want Max Holloway on this date,’” Cormier explained on his YouTube channel. “Then it would be on Max. … Because now, Max is the guy — and sure he has the ‘BMF’ title — but he wants the featherweight championship. Ilia has that. When Ilia says, ‘I want this fight on this date,’ Max will have to say, ‘OK,’ or he will say no and they will move on.

“And then Ilia Topuria, at that point, can then start to go, ‘I don’t want to fight him. He had his chance, he could’ve did it then, he didn’t want to play by the rules.’ He has to make a statement saying, ‘This is what I want as the champ,’ and then put the ball in Max’s court to deny it. But right now, it’s not coming off great, because he’s batting away all of these guys with no clear idea of who else there is.”

Cormier seems spot on when it comes to the current featherweight title picture — it’s Holloway or Volkanovski in play — with guys like Brian Ortega, Aljamain Sterling, and Movsar Evloev needing to do a little more work.

The veteran UFC color commentator appears to hope that Topuria, who seems to be on the path to becoming one of the promotion’s biggest stars, doesn’t overplay his hand

“Ilia Topuria is the champ, and as the champ, at times, you have some say into who you’re going to fight, when you’re going to fight him, when you’re ready, and all of that,” Cormier said. “I don’t know, though, if he has as much say in this as he thinks he does.

“Max Holloway to me is clearly the guy, [but] if not, [it’s] Alexander Volkanovski. Max told me that. Him and I spoke personally, and he goes, ‘I thought Volk was going to get a rematch. How in the world does he not get a rematch?’ This is coming from the guy that’s waiting for the title fight. But he recognizes, ‘Look, man, this dude beat me three times, long reigning champion, if anyone deserves an immediate rematch, it’s this guy.’”

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