After some speculation he might test the free-agent market, Roy Nelson (19-8 MMA, 6-4 UFC) has instead signed a new multi-fight deal with the UFC and will face Daniel Cormier (12-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) this fall.
UFC officials today announced the bout following an initial report from the Houston Chronicle. MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) subsequently confirmed Nelson’s new deal with sources close to the promotion.
Nelson and Cormier meet on the main card of “UFC 166: Velasquez vs. dos Santos III,” which takes place Oct. 19 at Houston’s Toyota Center. The main card, which features a heavyweight title fight between champ Cain Velasquez and former titleholder Junior dos Santos, airs on pay-per-view following preliminary bouts that air on the soon-to-launch FOX Sports 1 and stream on Facebook.
“Roy and I don’t always see eye-to-eye, but you can’t deny his talent,” White recently said. “He’s a great wrestler, he’s got heavy hands, and he’s got an unbelievable chin. He’s got great jiu-jitsu, too. He’s one of the most well-rounded heavyweights in the sport.”
Nelson fought most recently at June’s UFC 161 event, where he stepped up on short notice to add star power to a card that lost a few big names due to injury. “Big Country” was offered a new deal before the fight but turned it down in hoped of parlaying a win into better terms. Those plans were foiled when he lost a one-sided decision to Stipe Miocic, and Nelson and his manager, Mike Kogan, hinted they may be willing to listen to other offers.
Instead, Nelson will return to the promotion he’s called home since 2009, when a knockout win over Brendan Schaub in the finals of “The Ultimate Fighter 10? earned “Big Country” a UFC contract.
Meanwhile, Cormier is an undefeated contender who made his UFC debut in April, downing former UFC heavyweight champ Frank Mir by decision. A two-time Olympian and six-time national wrestling champion, Cormier is considered one of the most talented additions to the UFC’s roster in recent years. The 5-foot-10 Cormier is eventually expected to drop to 205 pounds in hopes of challenging current champ Jon Jones, and a victory over Nelson could go a long way to establishing himself s a viable contender.
A teammate of Velasquez at California’s famed American Kickboxing Academy, Cormier had openly lobbied for a slot on the UFC 166 card, which takes place a short drive from his hometown of Lafayette, La.
“I’m so ready to fight; it’s been a while,” Cormier recently wrote on Twitter. “Houston is only three-and-a-half hours from my hometown. I believe it’s a perfect fit.”
For the latest on UFC 166, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Roy Nelson)