Daniel “DC” Cormier and Roy “Big Country” Nelson meet in the co-main event of UFC 166: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos III, which takes place at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, on October 19, 2013. The main card heavyweight bout will go down after Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez and Diego Sanchez go to war in the lightweight division.
Cormier claims this will be his last go at heavyweight before dropping down to 205 pounds. Undefeated in his pro career thus far (12-0, 1-0 UFC) with wins over Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, Josh Barnett and Frank Mir, DC has been chasing a fight with Jon “Bones” Jones at light-heavyweight since the Strikeforce and UFC rosters merged early in the year.
Nelson, winner of Ultimate Fighter 10: Heavyweights, dropped a unanimous decision in his last fight with Stipe Miocic at UFC 161 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Known for the thunderous knockouts that he can bring for capacity crowds, as shown in his one-punch KO win over Cheick Kongo at UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen, Nelson has still been on thin ice with the company president Dana White upon his arrival in the Octagon.
Training alongside the reigning heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez from the beginning of his MMA career up until this point, Cormier has the best of the best to accommodate his game. The keys to victory for DC are his speed, footwork and constant head movement if he wants to stay in the winner’s circle this Saturday.
Big Country is a flat-footed, heavy-handed striker with a jiu-jitsu game good enough to get Fabricio Werdum off his back. He has a top game that is strong and smothering, although I can’t see him executing any type of takedowns against an Olympic-level wrestler like Cormier. I think he’ll be stuck in a stand up battle as soon as DC’s style starts to wear on him – sorta like his three-round decision loss to Junior dos Santos at UFC 117. Luckily for Nelson, the boxing of Cormier’s isn’t anything close to JDS’ – who couldn’t put Big Country away over the course of a fifteen-minute beatdown.
It bothers me when everyone else is picking the same fighter to win, and in any other case I would probably pick against Cormier, but Nelson just doesn’t have the conditioning to keep a high pace for 15 minutes. Anything can happen in a fight, especially with the heavyweight fighters that pack a lot of knockout power in their strikes.
All six of Nelson’s UFC wins have come by way of KO, which could be the key to defeating Cormier this weekend since no one has been able to drag him to the ground in MMA. In the end, though, this one is gonna go all three rounds with Cormier being the aggressor and Nelson doing more fighting to catch his wind rather than land anything that will damage his foe.
Prediction: Cormier via Unanimous Decision