Daniel Cormier will face Alexander Gustafsson in first UFC title defense
Daniel Cormier has his first title defense set as the new UFC light heavyweight champion, but he won’t be facing Ryan Bader as many expected.
Instead, former top contender Alexander Gustafsson will get the first crack at Cormier’s title later this year.
UFC president Dana White made the announcement via "UFC Tonight" on Wednesday. UFC officials later confirmed the bout to FOX Sports.
It appeared following Cormier’s UFC 187 win over Anthony Johnson that Bader was the most logical choice for the title shot. Bader is riding a four-fight win streak and had a confrontation with Cormier at the post-fight press conference.
Cormier originally was scheduled to face Bader at this weekend’s UFC Fight Night card in New Orleans before being pulled to fight for the belt two weeks earlier.
But Bader will have to face a different opponent after the UFC opted to give the next title shot to Gustafsson, who has been out of action since January when he lost by knockout to Johnson in a title eliminator matchup in his home country of Sweden.
It dropped Gustafsson to 1-2 in his past three bouts, but UFC officials opted to give him another chance at the title, possibly because of his strong showing in a loss to former champ Jon Jones, who remains on indefinite suspension after his arrest in April on felony charges of leaving the scene of an accident.