Although he won his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut against Frank Mir at this April’s UFC on Fox 7, it was deemed an uninspired performance that failed to deliver on the massive hype "DC" had generated.
After a long back-and-forth that was full of trash talk, rumors and even a complaint against "Big Country’s" patented beard, Cormier finally had another chance to deliver on his potential. He soundly defeated Nelson, never getting in the way of his opponent’s sleep-inducing overhand right.
Cormier kept his unblemished mixed martial arts (MMA) record intact last night, but his first UFC finish still eludes him. With Cormier linked to a future title fight against Jon Jones at Light Heavyweight, getting the stoppage would have gone a long way towards impressing the UFC brass enough to sign that bout.
"DC" has some work to do before he finds himself in that bout, but last night was still a showcase for his considerable skills. Let’s take a look at how "DC" got the job done in Houston last night.
This fight was essentially billed as a top-level wrestler versus a knockout striker, and it didn’t fail to deliver on that promise early on. Olympic wrestler Cormier took down Nelson to control "Big Country" on the ground at first, then at the cage. One of Nelson’s few moments of significant offense came when he grabbed Cormier’s arm to look for a kimura that never materialized. Cormier responded by landing some accurate power shots that may have put away lesser opponents.
A big knee hit low on Nelson and earned a short stoppage. Despite the errant shot, Cormier’s kickboxing game was incredibly sharp – he mixed up his varied strikes with a wholly unpredictable pattern. Cormier opened up the final frame with a huge overhand right that seamlessly led into a successful bodylock takedown. Overall, Nelson was simply outclassed.
"Big Country" never found an opening for his big haymakers; in fact, he never really had a chance to inflict any serious damage on Cormier. "DC’s" movement was half of the story here. His precise, diverse striking was the other half. It was an effective performance that wasn’t without its flaws – but Nelson is notoriously one of the toughest fighters to put away.
The win would have Cormier in the driver’s seat at heavyweight. Problem is, his good friend and training partner Cain Velasquez just retained the heavyweight title against Junior Dos Santos at the same event tonight. "DC’" has sworn to never face off with Velasquez, and he reaffirmed his intentions to fight his next bout at light heavyweight. He appeared to have lost a decent amount of weight heading into UFC 166, so we’ll await the announcement of Cormier’s first opponent at 205-pounds.
Nelson will fall further down the ladder with his second loss in a row. Cormier implemented a similar gameplan to that of Nelson’s UFC 161 opponent Stipe Miocic – he simply utilized great movement and crisp striking to outclass Nelson on the feet. It’s not an incredibly difficult strategy to figure out. Unfortunately, fan favorite Nelson has become a bit of a one-trick pony.
He’ll go back to fighting mid-tier opposition – and he’ll likely knock a decent amount of people out. Despite Dana White’s well-documented spat with Nelson, he remains a crowd-pleasing fighter who appears to wilt in the face of top-level competition.
He’ll never be a title contender, but he can instantly add some good entertainment value to any card.
Daniel Cormier picked up his second win in a row in UFC by destroying Roy Nelson. Will he find the same success at his new home of light heavyweight?