UFC 166: Why Daniel Cormier vs. Roy Nelson Is the Perfect Matchup

Z.G. Harris@@BRBootsyContributor IIAugust 2, 2013

UNCASVILLE, CT - DECEMBER 29:  Roy Nelson celebrates after defeating Antoine Jaoude for their Heavyweight bout presented by the International Fighting League World Grand Prix at the Mohegan Sun Arena December 29, 2007 in Uncasville, Connecticut.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images for IFL)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Since the announcement that Daniel Cormier would take on Roy Nelson will take place at UFC 166 on October 19 in Houston, some fans have suggested that the fight makes no sense.

However, upon closer examination, the bout makes perfect sense given the list of parties and variables it affects.

Nelson has never had the strongest relationship with Dana White. The two have bickered and prodded each other since Big Country entered the UFC. From contract disputes to Nelson's general weight and conditioning, each side has made it clear that the attitude of the opposing side is not appreciated.

Nelson was on perpetually thin ice with the UFC throughout his career, and the loss to Stipe Miocic at UFC 161 had many wondering if he'd make a return to the organization, or if the two sides could come to an agreement on his contract at all.

Enter former Olympic wrestler and Strikeforce Grand Prix champion Daniel Cormier.

The two fighters had first been rumored by White to lock horns following Nelson's win over Cheick Kongo at UFC 159. The bout was put off when Nelson took the fight with Miocic on short notice.

Nelson claimed that he would have fought Cormier, but the wrestler was medically unfit to fight. In an interview with MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani in June, Nelson called Cormier an “Uncle Tom” for wanting to beat him for Dana White.

Not surprisingly, Cormier took offense to the terms used by the Ultimate Fighter Season 10 winner and told him to sign the papers for October 19 so they could have it out once and for all. 

"Roy and I still have some unfinished business," Cormier told Helwani in July. "I hope he re-signs with the UFC, so we can settle what he started two months ago."

The bout has since been made official and fans should be excited. The bout comes at a perfect time for each fighter and the organization itself, not to mention for the fans.

Cormier's Position in the Division

Cormier is undefeated at heavyweight and, quite honestly, could make a case for being the top contender in the division. The problem? His training partner, Cain Velasquez, holds the belt.

At a media luncheon in October, Velasquez claimed that Cormier would like to move down to the 205-pound division rather than stay at heavyweight, but that drop has proven problematic for him during his wrestling career.

Because of that concern, a steady and slower drop is necessary. Another bout at heavyweight gives him a solid paycheck while he continues to drop weight in a healthy and proper manner.

Nelson Fights Are Still Marketable

Despite what White or the Fertitta brothers think of Nelson's attitude, the man is still marketable. He is not on the level of a Georges St-Pierre or Anderson Silva, but Nelson's trademark beard and belly rub are known by even the casuals.

They may only know him as “that fat guy with the beard,” but they know him and will tune in to watch his bouts.

Cormier's last bout with Frank Mir was not a memorable one. He still can't be said to have casual-fan appeal. A solid showing against Nelson can bolster his own name.

Nelson, on the other hand, has a chance to defeat a man almost destined for a future title shot at two weight classes.

Dos Santos Variable

The heavyweight title bout between Junior dos Santos and Velasquez headlines UFC 166.

Cormier vs. Nelson could possibly become a top-contender bout for Cormier, should Dos Santos win the belt back from Velasquez.

If the champion loses, Cormier would be free to fight for the title.

The undefeated Cormier would have no obligation to allow his teammate to take a fourth bout with Dos Santos before he himself had a shot.

Within the hypothetical of Dos Santos winning, Cormier winning suddenly puts him right behind Fabricio Werdum for a title shot. At minimum, it keeps him in the heavyweight division for a top-contender fight with Miocic.

Nelson winning doesn't guarantee him a shot, but with so few contenders at heavyweight, it places him right back in the running. He would be 5-2 in his last seven bouts. His two losses are decisions, one on short notice and the other to Werdum.

Despite how some may feel about Nelson, he is not far off from an earned title shot.

Everybody Loves a Feud

UFC fans are often shown fake feuds and tough guys trying to act angry when they are actually mindful and respectful of their opponent behind closed doors.

But when there is a real feud and two men appear to really dislike one another, fans tune in to watch the car crash. When it's heavyweights, that just adds to the excitement.

Call it barbaric or primitive, but there is something undeniably entertaining about two men who are interested in shutting their opponent's mouth. Since both Cormier and Nelson like to run their mouths, the fire will be stoked all the way up to the bout itself.

Both are brash and tend to prod opponents before they step into the cage. Both also know how to back up their talk.


All told, the fight makes perfect sense for both fighters, the organization and fans. A sophomore UFC bout for Cormier and a turnaround feud for Nelson following a rough short-notice loss actually create a perfect matchup.

The bad blood between the two only sweetens the pot and makes for a fantastic heavyweight matchup at just the right time.


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