UFC Heavyweight Daniel Cormier (12-0) has hit full stride in training camp ahead of UFC 166 in Houston, TX. Cormier will face heavy-hitter Roy Nelson (19-8) in less than a month in what will be the last time he fights at heavyweight in the UFC for now.
The 34-year-old former Olympic wrestler turned undefeated MMA superstar caught up with MMA Fight Corner on Friday as he was prepping for another grueling training session.
“Sore doesn’t do justice to what I feel right now,” Daniel Cormier said.
But all the pain will be worth the payout if Cormier can notch the 13th straight victory of his career at the Toyota Center. When he steps in to face Nelson in the co-main event at UFC 166, Cormier wants to make sure he puts an end to the talk that’s been stirred up.
Back in April, there was talk following UFC 159 that Nelson and Cormier would trade leather. Instead, Nelson stepped in to the co-main event against Stipe Miocic on short notice at UFC 161.
After a victory in his UFC debut against Frank Mir, Cormier was nursing an injured hand and wasn’t in a position to take a fight right away. Nelson seemed to think otherwise and took the opportunity to insinuate that Cormier was ducking him on Twitter. At one point in their war of words, Cormier made up a contract on a piece of binder paper to prove to “Big Country” that he was serious about fighting him.
“It was a fight they talked about making for us right after he knocked out Cheick Kongo and then it didn’t happen,” Cormier explained. “And then, he got offered the short notice fight and I did get offered the short notice fight too, but I wasn’t able to take it because of my hand. After, when I went to the doctor to try to take the fight, I wasn’t medically cleared to take the fight so I couldn’t do it.
“After that, Roy decided to say that I turned down the fight against him,” Cormier continued. “As I’ve said time and time again, if someone says that I’ve turned down a fight against him, I’ll probably pursue it. So that’s why I have so much interest in the fight. If you say I don’t want to fight you, there’s a good chance that I’m going to pursue that fight and try to fight you.”
Back at UFC 160, Nelson paid UFC President Dana White and dropped off a gift. It was a shirt that coined the phrase “Smartest guy on earth”. One man who disagrees with the statement is Cormier.
“Picking a fight with me, I wouldn’t say is that smart.”
After all, Cormier is undefeated and holds notable wins over Mir and Josh Barnett.
However, anyone who’s ever watched Nelson fight knows that he has a granite chin and right hand that lands with the power of Thor’s hammer. Despite a loss at UFC 161 to Miocic, Nelson set a UFC record. Nelson has absorbed 437 strikes throughout his UFC career, the most in the organization’s history without being knocked out.
As Cormier’s made clear, the upcoming battle will be the last time he fights at heavyweight. He is moving down to light heavyweight and is already on track to weigh in at 220 pounds come fight night which could be about 40 pounds less than Nelson weighs-in at.
“It’s actually coming off pretty fast which is kind of a little bit of a concern because I don’t want to be too too small for this fight,” Cormier explained. “I’m going to be noticeably lighter for this fight and hopefully it’ll help me, but I’ve got to be kind of careful. I don’t want to be too small because Roy weighed 260 last fight. If Roy weighs 240…I think that’s better for me because that isn’t that big.”
Since he’s shorter than Roy and will be lighter than him, Cormier’s plan to is be elusive and keep Nelson off balance. The idea is fancy footwork and speed that will keep Nelson guessing and ultimately get him to expend his energy.
“Foot movement, just being athletic and explosive is going to help me. Creating great angles on my stand up and just mixing it up,” said Cormier. “I’ve got to take Roy down. I’ve got to give him a lot of things to worry about. I can’t stand in front of him because of his power and just give him a lot of movement and make him try and keep up with me in ways that I don’t think he can athletically.”
Cormier realizes Nelson’s credentials in Brazilian jiu jitsu, so he’s also brought in a specialist to his camp. For the last three weeks he’s trained with BJJ world champion Marcus Almeida Buchecha.
“He’s been here on three different occasions for a week and I’ve been able to grapple him and do fairly well. It’s given me a confidence that I may not have necessarily had when I fought Frank Mir.”
The co-main event of UFC 166, Cormier vs. Nelson, goes down at the Toyota Center in Houston, TX on October 19. Expect a lean, mean and nasty Cormier to step in against Nelson.
Cormier’s teammate UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez will put his title on the line in a rubber match against Junior dos Santos in the main event.