Heavy hands are going to be thrown when Roy Nelson and Daniel Cormier step into the Octagon at UFC 166 on Oct. 10, but bombs of the verbal variety are already being launched. While the two heavyweights are set to collide next month in Houston, the "war of the words" is well under way.
In the tactical strategy/mind games department, the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix winner intends to file a complaint with the Texas Athletic Commission about "Big Country's" grizzly beard. He will request the commission make Nelson trim his facial hair before the fight. The former The Ultimate Fighter winner's beard is the 36-year-old's signature look, but Cormier believes it could cause issues if the fight moves into close quarters.
When the brick-handed Las Vegas native was asked to share his feelings about Cormier's complaint by Ariel Helwani on UFC Tonight, Nelson used the platform to lob a nuke in "D.C.'s" direction—and his response ratcheted up the intensity in the trash-talk category.
"If this beard is giving me an unfair advantage like Cormier is claiming," Nelson said via Helwani, "then he should have had a beard when he failed in the Olympics back in 2008 and 2004."
When informed of the heavyweight knockout artist's jab, Cormier upped the ante on his original stance.
"Alright, at first I was going to ask him to trim the beard," the Louisiana native said. "Now, he really pissed me off and now I want all of it off."
While the two fighters have exchanged barbs in the past, Nelson's latest remarks on Wednesday night took aim at a personal sore spot for Cormier. Despite his success as a wrestler on the collegiate and Olympic levels, one of the most disappointing moments in the AKA-trained fighter's athletic career came in the 2008 games.
Despite being named team captain and coming into Beijing with high expectations, Cormier suffered complications (dehydration and kidney failure) during his weight cut and was forced to withdraw. The situation has haunted him for years, and Nelson attacking the subject will ensure the friction between them will increase in the buildup to their collision at UFC 166.
It will be interesting to see how the Texas Athletic Commission handles Cormier's compliant in regard to Nelson's beard. Whether the commission will make Nelson lose the beard entirely remains to be seen, but with his response to the matter at hand on Wednesday night, it's clear Big Country doesn't care for Cormier making an issue out of anything that doesn't involve their direct fight.
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.
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