Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing an unusual heavyweight showdown to its upcoming UFC 166: "Velasquez vs. Dos Santos 3" pay-per-view (PPV) event, which takes place this Saturday night (Oct. 19, 2013) from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
No, it's not the main event rubber match between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos.
What makes the 265-pound scrap between Roy Nelson and Daniel Cormier so unique, besides the fact that it pits a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt opposite a former Olympic wrestler, is that both men intend to make this fight their last in the division.
Greener pastures, it would seem, are growing at 205 pounds.
For Cormier, there is little reason to stick around. As he approaches the twilight of his career, his overall conditioning and longterm health take precedence over the ease of competing without a weight cut. In addition, he already wore gold by outlasting four other men to win a world grand prix championship title.
And he's not the only one.
Two years before "DC" stepped inside the cage for the very first time, Nelson was a promising young heavyweight prospect with an impressive 10-2 professional mixed martial arts (MMA) record. After briefly considering a stint with Mike Whitehead and Don Frye in the Tucson Scorpions, "Big County" donned the jersey of the Reno Lions and went to war for International Fight League (IFC).
He got off to an inauspicious start following a controversial split-decision loss to Ben Rothwell in early 2007.
Undaunted, he rebounded with back-to-back wins over Shane Ott and Bryan Vetell, the latter of which served as the opening round of the IFC 2007 Heavyweight World Grand Prix. Vetell was a late replacement for Rothwell, who was pulled from his Nelson rematch after failing to come to terms on a new contract.
With "Big Ben" out of the picture, that left Nelson on a collision course with bestial Brazilian Antoine Jaoude on the main card of the IFL World Grand Prix Finals on December 29, 2007 at Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.
What's that expression ... "Winning ugly is still winning?"
Despite his superior ground game -- good enough to win him the Grappler's Quest Superfight Championship in 2003 -- Nelson was content to stand and bang, trading leather with Jaoude and nearly finishing him off in the opening frame. The Brazilian held on until the second stanza, but quickly crumbled under a barrage of wild strikes.
In the post-fight press conference, Nelson eloquently summed up his performance: "He hit me a couple times, then I hit him. Then one of us went down."
Who will go down on Saturday night?
After IFL closed its doors in 2008, Nelson (19-8) eventually made it to the hallowed Octagon by way of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), but has failed to stay consistent in what will soon be four years under the ZUFFA banner. He has a chance to get back into the win column -- as well as secure a win over a top-five heavyweight -- by turning away Cormier (12-0) in "The Lone Star State."