Daniel Cormier wants the biggest fights in the world. But at UFC 166, he'll be settling for a fight with Big Country.
Cormier is currently ranked as the No. 4 heavyweight in the world and his resume would demand a title shot if he were to beat the right guy in the division. This, according to Cormier, is exactly why a tilt with No. 3-ranked Fabricio Werdum was almost completely out of the question.
Cormier told Franklin McNeil of ESPN:
I would have taken the fight if UFC had offered it to me. I will fight anybody who’s winning, anyone but Cain. So if they would have offered me the fight with Werdum in an eliminator, I would have accepted it and I would have beaten him and not taken the title shot. It would have really kind of jacked things up a little bit.
UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez is a training partner of Cormier's, and the two are on record as saying they would not fight one another, which is why DC plans to cut to light heavyweight after the Roy Nelson fight.
A fight with Werdum would wreak havoc on the heavyweight division if Cormier were to emerge the victor, but how does the Nelson fight benefit him?
A win against Nelson would not help his claim for a shot at Jon Jones, it does nothing for him in his current division and a loss might eliminate an immediate crack at Jones.
Daniel Cormier is a former Olympic wrestler, and he currently holds a 12-0 MMA record with five knockouts and three submission wins. His stand-up is evolving at light speed, making him a scary talent in the UFC.
After he handily, though not spectacularly, beat Frank Mir in his UFC debut in April, Cormier established himself as one of the best in the heavyweight division. Add the fact that light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has nearly cleaned out his division, and Cormier becomes a big threat if he can cut weight.
The fact that Cormier will not fight Velasquez has caused him to make plans to cut weight with the hopes of fighting Jones. He's proven he can fight the best and win, and he already believes he can beat Jones.
“I have the skills to win that fight [against Jones],” Cormier said. “But I have to get through [Nelson] first. I have to fight a fight that will strengthen my case."
He plans to cut after the Nelson fight, so a win does nothing for him at heavyweight. Cormier believes the fight strengthens his case for a shot at Jones should Jones win in September, but what if DC loses?
Roy Nelson, unlike Cormier, appears to be on a downward slope after a unanimous decision loss to Stipe Miocic bounced him out of the top 10 in the division. Also, if you call to attention the fact that Nelson lost by unanimous decision to Werdum in February of 2012, a fight with him doesn't look that appealing.
Big Country is a tough fighter with possibly the best chin in the entire UFC. He has big power in his hands, as evidenced by his three straight knockout victories preceding the loss to Miocic last month.
But the fact that he lost so badly to a relative unknown in Miocic makes this a dangerous fight for Cormier. Although all signs point to an easy win for DC given that he could neutralize Nelson with his wrestling if need be, one shot could end Cormier's dreams of a fight with Jones, at least for now.
Imagine if Cormier loses to Nelson, especially by knockout. Why would the UFC, and Jon Jones for that matter, want to book a fight with a guy who just loss to a fighter outside of the top 10?
Outside of keeping himself warm for a potential fight with Jones, a bout with Big Country just doesn't make sense for Cormier.
Cormier is moving to a new division after the fight with Nelson, so a win does nothing for him, as he has already proven he should at least be considered for a shot with Jones. If he knocks out or submits Nelson in the bout, that strengthens his case; but if he loses, he'll have to earn his shot all over again.
Make no mistake, I'm going on record as saying that Daniel Cormier will defeat Roy Nelson by unanimous decision at UFC 166. He will strike with him for a bit, take him down and wear him out.
But if I were a member of his camp, I would not have let him take this fight, as the risks far outweigh the rewards. All it would take is Big Country's right hand to end Cormier's immediate shot in one fell swoop of at the big fight he so eagerly wants.
Nelson has 12 knockout victories in his career. For Cormier's sake, let's hope it's not 13 come October.