Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White hinted at the post-UFC 159 press conference (watch replay here) that Roy Nelson -- fresh off a crushing first round knockout of Cheick Kongo at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. -- could get Daniel Cormier or Mark Hunt next.
The vote here is for Cormier, who seemingly thinks it's a good idea, too.
Nelson and Cormier would be perfect for one another, right now. I’m not a fan of Hunt, who faces the extremely capable Junior dos Santos at UFC 160, being slotted against "Big Country" next when he’s basically facing the second-best Heavyweight in the world next month (May 25, 2013). A Hunt win is almost certain to be a knockout, something Cain Velasquez couldn’t pull off despite five rounds of bouncing shots off the incredibly hard head if "Cigano."
Indeed, if Hunt turns that trick, the guy has earned a title shot, not a Nelson bout.
Cormier, therefore, makes much more sense. That’s because "DC" is emerging as one of the truly elite heavyweights in the game, and for Nelson to land a title shot, besting the undefeated former Olympian would really require him to put it all together.
For Cormier, Nelson would represent a fresh set of threats he hasn’t quite faced in the heavyweight division – someone with massive, one-shot power and the proclivity to use it. Nelson, now with three first-round knockouts in a row, would also ask some technical questions of Cormier, who thus far hasn’t suffered from his relatively short, 5’10" stature.
It’d also force Nelson to really drop some weight to improve his sometimes-spotty cardio, as Cormier’s fantastic grappling chops have proven dominant, despite giving away poundage aplenty. He simply wears down his opponents, and Nelson, if he’s ever going to seriously compete for a title, needs to be in top cardio shape to compete at that level.
The win-win is that as long as Velasquez remains champion, Cormier probably isn’t going to fight his buddy anyway. A bout with Jon Jones could be the brilliantly tantalizing alternative, but I am still not sure Cormier can get down to 205 pounds without losing some mojo.
That’s something he knows better than any of us, but given the fact that he suffered from kidney failure making 211 leading up to the 2008 Olympics is a definite concern. Until then, he and Nelson are one hell of a heavyweight fight, and either guy winning it definitively is a good thing for the division.
Jason Probst can be reached at www.twitter.com/jasonprobst