Sometimes, you just never know.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight Daniel Cormier will fight Roy Nelson in the co-main event of the UFC 166: "Velasquez vs. Dos Santos 3" pay-per-view (PPV) event, which goes down this Saturday night (Oct. 19, 2013) at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
There's "a lot of interest in this one."
That was the first and only comment we got right here on MMAmania.com, back on Sept. 14, 2009, when we brought word of Cormier's mixed martial arts (MMA) debut under the Strikeforce "Challengers" banner, a sort of proving ground for untested and up-and-coming fighters that had a nice little home on the Showtime network.
The comment, of course, was made in jest, suggesting that no one in the combat sports community gave a rat's ass about "DC" and his pending debut, despite the fact that he was entering the cage with some of the finest amateur credentials of any prospect in the history of the promotion.
Coupled with his experience as an NCAA Division I collegiate wrestler, Cormier was the 2008 USA Senior Freestyle Olympic Team Captain. That was in addition to training with some of the biggest names in the sport at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), including Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck and future UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez.
No big deal.
AKA was based in San Jose, Calif., just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Strikeforce headquarters. But "Challengers" was something of a traveling circus, going from city-to-city to show off the stars of tomorrow. Among them was Gary Frazier, who like Cormier, also made his professional debut at the Spiritbank Event Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, back on Sept. 25, 2009.
Battle of the rookies.
Frazier knew a thing or two about wrestling himself, having won two state titles at Shawnee High just a quick jaunt down Rt. 44 in "The Sooner State." He also excelled as an outside linebacker on the Wolves' gridiron and even tore it up for the local track team.
If Cormier was looking for an advantage, it wasn't going to be his athleticism.
Unfortunately, their ensuing battle was not the action-packed slobberknocker most fans expected. While on paper both fighters stacked up fairly well, they left a lot to be desired when it came to execution. Despite a five-inch reach advantage, Frazier was on the run for a majority of the first round.
Except for when he had his takedown attempt stuffed before flopping to the ground.
Conversely, Cormier had his opponent's back several times throughout the opening frame, but failed to capitalize, intermittently pounding away with hammer fists while trying to figure out what to do next. The second stanza played out in much the same way as the first, but restless referee Kevin Nix was no longer interested in watching Frazier turtle his way from bell-to-bell.
"You can slap some good ol' J.R.'s barbecue sauce on Frazier! He is done!" exclaimed cageside commentator Mauro Ranallo.
It's important to remember that Cormier's "Challengers" debut was just that -- a debut -- and "DC" has made great strides in his overall skill set, as evidenced by upset wins over Antonio Silva and Josh Barnett, the latter of which earned him the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Championship.
A quick squash of Dion Staring paved the way for a convincing unanimous decision victory over Frank Mir in the first of what could be many appearances for Cormier inside the Octagon, no matter the weight class. But before he can make history (again), he'll first need to deport "Big Country" this Saturday night in "The Lone Star State."
For a historical look at Nelson's rise to power click here.