Daniel Cormier’s agility and athleticism proved too much for Roy Nelson in the co-main event of UFC 166 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Cormier cruised to a unanimous, 30-27 decision.
The 37-year-old Nelson, ranked No. 9 in the heavyweight division, dropped to 20-9.
The 34-year-old Cormier, the No. 2 ranked heavyweight, is now 13-0. He also noted that his next fight will be at light heavyweight.
Nelson, the BJJ black belt, and Cormier, an Olympic wrestler, showcased their grappling in the first round, which was a dominant affair for Cormier.
An early takedown for Cormier came before the four minute mark in the first round. He transitioned to a cradle and then pinned Nelson against the cage. Nelson nearly got back to his feet but Cormier kept putting the pressure and delivered a nice knee to the midsection. Once back to the feet, Cormier peppered him with short punches and a knee, including one below the belt. The fight restarted on their feet the final minute of the round and Nelson was gunning for the big right hand to end the round but whiffed four times. Cormier landed 21 significant strikes in the round.
In the second round, Cromier was content to keep the fight standing early in the round. Cormier continued to baffle and keep Nelson and his knockout power at a safe distance.
Cormier landed another knee and worked a single leg takedown. He pinned Nelson against the cage at the two minute mark and continued to land effective, short shots. It appeared fatigued started to set in for Nelson late in the round as Cormier switched things up and started landing multiple kicks.
The third round saw a desperate Nelson behind on the scorecards. With instructions from his corner to go for the knockout, “Big Country” couldn’t close the distance. Cormier, who may have hurt his hand earlier in the fight, landed some effective leg kicks, front kicks, and a hard kick to the body. A frustrated Nelson tried to bait Cormier into an exchange late in the round but Cormier was just too smooth and elusive.
Cormier was coming off a unanimous decision win over Frank Mir in his UFC debut in August.
Nelson had won four of five fights before losing to Stipe Miocic in June of this year.