FLASHBACK: Daniel Cormier’s heavyweight career as told by Penick

Original reports by Jamie Penick, Compiled by Robert Vallejos

Daniel Cormier

A real-time perspective a Daniel Cormier’s Strikeforce and UFC heavyweight career.

It might be hard to believe, but Daniel Cormier has an unblemished heavyweight record. When Cormier face heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic at UFC 226, Cormier will be fighting in the division for the first time in 5 years.

While Cormier has carved out a legacy as a light heavyweight, he has had an impressive career at heavyweight. Here is a rundown of fight night reports and analysis of Cormier’s Strikeforce and UFC heavyweight career, as reported by  former MMATorch editor Jamie Penick.



Strikeforce Challengers: Kennedy vs. Cummings

September 25, 2009,  SpiritBank Event Center in Bixby, Oklahoma

ROUND ONE: Cormier took the center and stalked Frazier along the cage. Cormier threw an inside leg kick. He got in a good punch and Frazier tried to shoot in. Cormier held it off and landed a good knee as they got to the clinch. They broke it off and Cormier chased Frazier down. Frazier again tried to go for something but Cormier brought it to the ground and got on top of him as he turtled up. Cormier landed a number of punches to the side of the head. Frazier finally got out of the turtled position but Cormier was relentless and stayed on him. He moved to side control and moved up to a crucifix, landing thundering shots to the body. Frazier got out and finally got back to his feet. Cormier chased him and Frazier popped a right to Cormier and made him back off a bit. Cormier landed a good straight left. Frazier missed a right late just before the round ended.

Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. He didn’t do so much damage that it was an overwhelming round, but he was on top of Frazier landing punches for some time there.

ROUND TWO: Cormier again took the center. Frazier tagged him with a good jab. Cormier cut the distance with a jab and then landed a good overhand right. Cormier grabbed for a single leg and Frazier held onto the cage to stay on his feet and then literally ran away. Frazier landed a good body kick as they got back to walking each other down. Cormier walked Frazier to the cage again and landed a couple of good shots. Cormier tried to take Frazier down but Frazier nicely stayed on his feet. He landed a few shots and then Frazier got a Thai clinch. He landed a knee but slipped and fell with Cormier falling right on top of him. Cormier lands some punches and then moves to mount. He looks for an opening and then he starts tossing punches. Frazier gives up his back and Cormier throws a bunch of punches to the sides of his head, causing the ref to stop the fight as Frazier was flattened and could only cover his head. Cormier picks up a win in his debut.

WINNER: Cormier via TKO at 3:39 of the second round.

POST FIGHT: Cormier asked the crowd if the fight was exciting and said he came to fight. It’s what he chose to do and he’s leaving it all there on the mat. He said he injured his wrist about a week ago, otherwise he would have finished it earlier.

STAR RATING: (**) Enjoyable brawl between two wrestlers in their first MMA fight. Frazier blocked a couple of takedown attempts nicely, but it was Cormier who looked good in this one. Once he got to mount there it was just a matter of time.


Strikeforce Challengers: Johnson vs. Mahe

March 26, 2010,  Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.

WINNER: Cormier via KO(punch) at 1:19 if the first round.


Strikeforce: Houston

August 21, 2010, Toyota Center in Houston, Texas

WINNER:  Cormier via TKO(punches) at 1:02 of the first round.


Strikeforce Challengers: Woodley vs. Saffiedine

January 7, Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

ROUND ONE: Cole took the center and tried to walk Cormier to the cage. Cormier landed a couple of jabs and tried to get in close but backed out. Cormier landed an inside leg kick and a hard overhand punch. He got in close and clinched, pressing Cole to the cage. Cole turned him around. Cormier landed an uppercut in the clinch. Cormier landed a nice straight kick and walked Cole down. He got in and tried to trip Cole up, then pulled off a nice throw into side control. Cole got Cormier to half guard. Cormier tried to pass and Cole scrambled and got to his feet. Cormier grabbed a body lock but let it go and landed a couple of punches. Cole landed a knee. Cormier tried to pull off another clinch and Cole held it off. Cole landed a couple of strikes and Cormier stayed on him in the clinch against the cage. After a stalemate on the cage, Cormier backed off. He landed a big overhand right, but Cole took it. Cormier threw up a head kick. He landed a few more strikes agains the cage and then pulled off a trip takedown into Cole’s guard. He landed a hard punch and pressed Cole into the cage. Cormier ended the round on top.

Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. Not the best action throughout the round, but Cormier pulled off a really nice throw and a nice trip takedown late, as well as getting in some nice strikes as well. He’s well in control right now.

ROUND TWO: Cormier rushed in with punches but Cole backed off. Cormier shot but Cole stuffed it. Cormier then threw him in the clinch and got him to the ground. Cormier landed strikes against the cage in the half guard. Cormier passed to mount, but Cole got out of it using the fence to kick off. Cormier scrambled and got back to side control. Cole tried to turn into him and Cormier stepped back into half guard. Cormier stayed busy with short strikes to the body and head in the half guard, then passed to side control. Cole tried to scramble and Cormier stayed on his back and put a hook in. He got the other hook in and went for the choke but lost position as Cole rolled. Cole managed to roll to his back and got Cormier into the half guard. Cole tried to grab for a kimura late in the round and Cormier tried to hold it off. Cole couldn’t lock it on and Cormier held off to the end of the round. He wasn’t in trouble with that sub attempt at all.

Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. Cormier’s dominating the position, but Cole’s staying in it with scrambles. It’s still quite sloppy, but Cormier’s still in control.

ROUND THREE: Cole tried to move forward early and ate a hard leg kick from Cormier. Cole landed a right but Cormier countered with a few punches. Cole threw some punches with very little on them and missed. Cormier grabbed a clinch and tried to get a trip takedown but Cole held it off. The clinch was a stalemate and the ref separated them. Cormier landed a hard right to the body. Cormier rushed in for a takedown, Cole moved aside and nearly landed a knee to a grounded Cormier’s head. Cormier scrambled and took his back, but Cole got back to his feet. They jockeyed for position in the clinch against the cage. Cormier tried to separate and Cole held him and landed a knee. Cormier landed another right, but the action slowed and they were separated with a minute and a half left. Cole pressed Cormier back to the cage and tried to land a few punches. Cormier grabbed a body lock and took Cole down hard on the cage. Cormier stayed on Cole against the cage, who tried to walk up the cage. Cole just threw punches to Cormier’s back as he was getting smothered. Cormier started throwing a few flurries and finished the round and fight on top.

Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. Both fighters were quite tired by fight’s end, but again it was mostly Cormier. Cole just didn’t have any energy to do anything, and Cormier cinched up the round with the late takedown.

WINNER: Cormier via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

POST FIGHT: Cormier gave Cole credit. He said he was disappointed, and Mauro couldn’t understand why he was disappointed. But Cormier promised to be back better the next time.

STAR RATING: (**-) Despite the fawning over Cormier throughout the fight by the broadcast team, it wasn’t a great fight. Cormier’s got immense talent, and he clearly won the fight, but it wasn’t the best he’s looked. Cole hung in there despite being outclassed, though. Cormier continues to have a ton of upside, and has a lot of great tools, it simply wasn’t his best fight so far. Still, with the schedule he’s kept over the last year, that he’s won six fights in 10 months is damned impressive.


Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum

June 18, 2011 , American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

ROUND ONE: Cormier stalked Monson early and landed a couple of leg kicks. Monson circled on the outside and landed a few strikes. Cormier got in close and Monson grabbed a clinch. They separated shortly thereafter. Cormier landed a two punch combo. He landed a nice combo to the body and head on the cage and Monson clinched. Cormier put him on the cage and landed a knee. Monson got cut on the top of his head. Monson landed an uppercut and they separated. Cormier threw a high kick that missed. Monson landed a right, Cormier responded with a combo. Cormier landed a straight kick to the body. Cormier tagged Monson with an overhand right. He landed a kick to the body. He got in with another right and continued with another punch. Cormier landed a nice jab. Monson landed a left and Cormier lit him up with a counter combo. Cormier landed a nice left hook in an exchange. Cormier landed the overhand right again. Monson can take a punch, but he’s taking too many. Cormier landed another combo. He’s lighting Monson up in this fight. Another short combo landed from Cormier and the round ended with them squaring off.

Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. Good start to the fight. Monson can certainly absorb damage and keep going, but he’s absolutely getting lit up by Cormier so far.

ROUND TWO: Cormier threw a high kick early as he walked Monson down. He landed a quick combo with some hard punches and Monson backed him off with a right. Monson overshot an overhand right and fell to his back but Cormier stayed on his feet. Cormier came right back and landed a combo. Monson tried to step in and Cormier hit him with a combo. Monson landed a right, Cormier got in with another short combo. They clinched at the cage and Cormier pressed Monson back. Monson landed a nice right as Cormier backed away. Cormier missed a high kick. Monson landed a left. Cormier landed a hard right. He got in an uppercut as Monson came in for a clinch. Monson landed a nice jab. Cormier connected on three punches. Monson with another jab and Cormier countered. Cormier pressed Monson to the cage and landed a knee to the body in the clinch. Cormier landed a nice flurry of punches as he backed off. Cormier landed a nice kick to the body and followed with a left. He popped Monson with a straight right and got back to the clinch. He landed a knee to the thigh. He tripped Monson to his knees and landed a right but Monson stood back up. Cormier landed a couple more before the round ended.

Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. Another very good round for Cormier. Monson is taking a ton of punishment, but he’s still going.

ROUND THREE: Before the third round started Gus Johnson said Monson has a “Fedor Emelianenko-like body.” Wow. Cormier began the round coming forward and landed punches. He clinched and rushed Monson to the cage but then backed off. Cormier continued to walk Monson down and landed a few strikes. He hurt Monson with a right but didn’t follow up. He landed a nice left hook. He’s hurting Monson but Monson continues to stand. Monson tried to take Cormier down but Monson threw him to the side. He let him stand and went back to the clinch. Cormier pressed Monson to the cage, and landed a flurry as he backed out. Cormier missed a high kick but landed one to the knee. He hurt Monson again with a nice combination and Monson shot in. Cormier stuffed it and made Monson stand. He then shot in but Monson held him off and they clinched at the cage. Cormier landed a hard knee to the gut. Monson tried to take him down and Cormier just shrugged him off and threw him to the ground and let him stand. Cormier with a nice leg kick. Cormier landed a high kick to the chin and Monson stayed standing. Monson tried to walk forward and landed a right. Cormier landed a combo as the fight ended.

Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. I don’t know how Monson stayed standing throughout this fight. Cormier looked really good, and his standup continues to improve. Good fight against a solid veteran in Monson who continued fighting for the full 15 minutes.

WINNER: Cormier via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

STAR RATING: (**-) Completely one-sided fight, but Cormier’s improved striking was fun to watch and it was very impressive on his part.


Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov

September 10, 2011, U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio.

ROUND ONE: Silva landed a kick to the body early. Cormier threw a kick that Silva caught and he was driven to the cage. He got separation right away. Cormier dropped Silva with a huge right and dropped into his guard. He postured up and then backed off, making Silva stand. That was very much like the Mike Kyle knockdown last December. Cormier tagged Silva with a straight left but Silva stayed standing. Cormier connected on another right. Cormier tagged him again and Silva shot in. Cormier stuffed it and stood back up as Silva tried to pull guard. He made him stand again. Cormier landed a jab. Silva threw a kick, but Cormier caught it and kicked his leg out from under him, sending him to his back. The crowd booed Silva on his back as Cormier stood over him. Cormier backed off again. Silva tried to walk in but Cormeir landed a jab. Cormier caught another kick. Cormier landed a big uppercut and dropped Silva, he landed a few hammerfists on the ground and Silva is out. That was an insane performance, what a win by Cormier.

WINNER: Cormier via KO at 3:56 of the first round

POST FIGHT: Cormier said “give me some respect” after what he just did against a top ranked heavyweight in Silva. He reminded everyone that made it 4-0 for the American Kickboxing Academy tonight. Cormier said Silva is no Cain Velasquez. Cormier predicted a Josh Barnett win tonight.

STAR RATING: (***) Daniel Cormier has gotten better and better each fight out, and his progression has been extremely impressive to watch. His striking showed great improvement in the fight with Jeff Monson this summer, and he just lit up “Bigfoot” tonight. Though he got into the sport late, he’s showing world class ability in short order, and he’s a capable challenger against any fighter right now. That was incredible


Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier

May 19, 2012 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.

ROUND ONE: Barnett slipped as he threw a body kick. Barnett landed a good left. Cormier went to stalk. They traded big strikes. Cormier landed a nice combination. He threw a high kick. They traded punches again. Cormier got in a few knees. Cormier backed Barnett to the cage and landed a good combination. Barnett landed a knee to the body against the cage. Cormier landed a nice combination. He got in a good knee to the body as the clinched. Cormier landed another short combination. Barnett tried to land a short elbow. Cormier pawed in with a jab. Barnett missed a punch but landed a low kick to the legs. He got in the short elbow as Cormier came in for a clinch. Cormier landed a good combination to the body and head. Cormier again landed a combination. Cormier again landed several punches. Cormier threw a front kick but it missed. He landed a leg kick. They traded punches. Cormier landed a knee in a brief clinch. He landed a push kick then landed a nice combo against the cage. Barnett landed a nice punch and a knee to the face that hurt Cormier. Cormier pressed him to the cage and held out the round in the clinch.

Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. He was outlining Barnett throughout the round and landed a lot of really good strikes. Barnett hurt him late with that knee, but Cormier took the round.

ROUND TWO: Barnett came to the center. Cormier landed a few quick combos. Cormier again with a short combo. Barnett tried to press in and Cormier pressed him back. Cormier again landed three while Barnett hit him with one. Cormier took a punch then landed a few in succession. Barnett landed a knee to the body but Cormier avoided any other punishment. Cormier landed two jabs. He landed a couple more punches and kicks. They traded strikes. Barnett landed a right. Barnett tried to score a takedown, but he got stuffed and ate an uppercut. Cormier landed a hard combination to the body. Cormier ducked under a punch, grabbed a single leg, and scored a takedown. Cormier tried to stay busy in Barnett’s guard. He landed a hard forearm to the face. Cormier postured up briefly but Barnett held onto him. Barnett tried to throw up a triangle, but Cormier got out easily. Barnett tried to go for a leg lock, but Cormier got out, then dropped back into guard. Barnett’s face was a bloody mess at this point. Cormier continued to work in the guard. He landed another short forearm and a couple more elbows. Cormier landed a vicious short series of elbows and punches, but Barnett made it to the end of the round.

Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. That was a very good round for Cormier, and he’s well ahead in this one right now.

ROUND THREE: Barnett tried to rush in early, but Cormier avoided his attack. Cormier connected on a few nice strikes as Barnett missed. Barnett landed a knee to the body, then went for a single leg against the cage. Cormier stuffed it. Cormier broke free, then landed another combo in close. Cormier continued landing multiple punches with Barnett connecting on one at a time. Cormier then landed a couple punches, ducked under, grabbed a single leg and dumbed Barnett on his head and got into side control. Cormier landed a few elbow strikes. Barnett reversed and Cormier let him get up. Cormier landed a couple good punches, then landed another jab. Barnett went for a head kick but it just grazed Cormier. Cormier fired back with a few more punches. Cormier landed a nice combination again. Barnett landed a knee as Cormier shot in and Cormier gave up on the shot. Cormier landed a head kick that hurt Barnett. He started unleashing punches and knees, but then Barnett landed an uppercut. Cormier backed out, landed a knee then took Barnett’s back standing. Barnett landed an elbow, but Cormier kept control of him. Cormier rode out the round in the stalled position as the round ended.

Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. Close to a 10-8. He’s controlling every aspect of this fight right now.

ROUND FOUR: Barnett’s face was a mess to begin the fourth, but he drove forward to kick things off. He landed a kick. He backed Cormier up to the cage. He landed a knee and grabbed a clinch. He landed a knee to the body. Cormier turned him around. Cormier avoided a punch and landed a body shot. He landed a hard left hook. They traded strikes. Cormier landed a good uppercut. Cormier went high with the kick again but it was blocked. He went to the other side and it was partially blocked. Barnett pressed in for a clinch but Cormier got away from him. Barnett tried a spinning back fist that missed. Cormier landed a double jab. Cormier missed a shot, then landed a right. He grabbed for a single leg and scored a takedown, but Barnett grabbed for a knee bar. He almost got the heel hook but Cormier escaped and got into his guard. He went back to the elbows in the guard. Barnett landed a couple from his back. Cormier continued to stay busy on top. They were stood up. Barnett landed a hard knee to the body. They clinched to end the round.

Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. Closer than the first three, but still Cormier’s round. He’s firmly ahead into the final round.

ROUND FIVE: They shook hands to start the final round. Barnett tried to move ahead and he landed a body kick. Barnett pressed in and landed a knee. Cormier slipped on some water and got Josh Rosenthal to clean it quick. As they restarted and clinched. Cormier landed a couple of strikes. Barnett landed a couple of kicks. The action slowed considerably in the final frame. Barnett pressed in and landed a leg kick. Cormier circled on the outside then popped in with a two punch combo. Cormier ducked under a punch and took Barnett down again. Barnett walked up the wall. Cormier tried to pick him up and slam him but Barnett kept his balance this time. Cormier pressed him to the cage. Cormier was just looking to get this to the end of the round as he’s well ahead. Cormier finally backed off with ten seconds left and avoided Barnett for the final moments. The crowd booed the final end of the fight.

Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. Not much to that round, but Cormier scored another takedown and that was about all that happened that round.

WINNER: Cormier via unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-45)

STAR RATING: (****-) That was one of the better five-round heavyweight fights you’re going to see, and even though it slowed down in the final round, there were some moments of greatness sprinkled in throughout. Cormier was absolutely fantastic in this fight, and he is for real as a top contender in this division. The UFC would be better suited just bringing him right over to the UFC, because he can compete with anyone at heavyweight right now.


Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine

Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

ROUND ONE: Staring put his hand in front of him and tried to step in. Cormier threw a high kick. Staring closed the distance and they clinched briefly. Cormier backed off and landed a leg kick. Cormier landed a few strikes and clinched. Cormier then pulled off a great throw to take him down into side control. Why is this fight happening? He landed an elbow. Staring held Cormier’s wrist for a bit. Cormier put him in a crucifix briefly. Staring scrambled to his feet, but Cormier was on him. Cormier let him up but walked him down. He missed a head kick. He landed a nice combo and had Staring hurt. He scored another takedown after closing the distance. He grabbed for an americana but let it go. He landed a few elbows. Staring again got to his feet. The fight was halted briefly to put Staring’s mouthpiece back in. Staring came in and clinched again. Cormier grabbed a body lock and took him down into mount. He landed a few elbows and strikes in the mount. Cormier continued working the elbows, but Staring made it out of the round.

Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. Not enough damage for a 10-8, but Staring has nothing to offer, which again was expected.

ROUND TWO: Staring came out and threw a kick to the body. He clinched, but Cormier turned him around and got double underhooks. He finally separated and backed away. Cormier landed a few short strikes as Staring came in, then took him down from a clinch. He easily passed guard and went to work. He continued working from the top with strikes, elbows, and more, and Staring just tried to stay alive on the bottom. He gave up his back. Cormier briefly looked for an armbar, then went back to attacking. Cormier just threw Staring over, and as Staring wasn’t defending anything, John McCarthy finally stopped it.

WINNER: Cormier via TKO at 4:02 of the second round

STAR RATING: (*+) A one-sided beating that just had no business being made. Cormier beat up Josh Barnett in his last fight for five rounds, and though he didn’t struggle in this fight at all, it’s nowhere near as impressive as his last bout, and that unnecessarily hurt him. There was just no reason for this fight to happen.

-Cormier said he signed his UFC contract, and called out Frank Mir for April 20 on Fox. He said he’s going to let Jon Jones defend his belt on April 27, then kick his ass in the fall.


UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Melendez

April 20, 2013, HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.

ROUND ONE: Mir threw an early kick that Cormier stepped away from. He threw a few more kicks as he tried to walk Cormier down but they didn’t connect. Mir threw another head kick that was shrugged aside. Cormier tried to walk him down and landed a big left as Mir threw a knee. He clinched and got in a couple of uppercuts. He landed a nice right and another uppercut. Mir threw a knee to the body. Cormier got in a nice left, grabbed a headlock and moved him aside. He backed off, then scored with a nice quick flurry on the cage. Cormier scored a few more strikes as he clinched again and landed a knee to the body. Cormier landed a couple of nice body punches as he kept Mir on the cage. Cormier landed a nice flurry in the clinch. He landed a brutal knee to the side that hurt Mir and he continued targeting the body with punches. Cormier landed another big flurry while staying in the clinch. Masterful clinch work from Cormier in this fight. He separated with a straight right. Mir landed a right, then they clinched in the center. Cormier pressed him to the cage and landed another body punch. He continued to target the left side of Mir’s body as he wore Mir down. Cormier slipped on a head kick and Mir tried to grab a guillotine but Cormier popped out, bringing a smile from Mir. Cormier kicked out Mir’s leg with an inside leg kick. He landed a hard one to the outside. The round ended in a standoff.

Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. That was some excellent clinch work, and the damage he did to the body was significant. Strong opening round for Cormier.

ROUND TWO: Mir landed a solid outside leg kick early, though it didn’t stop Cormier from moving forward. Cormier threw a jumping head kick that was far from landing, but looked interesting anyway. He backed Mir to the cage and got the clinch again. Cormier worked with punches and knees in the clinch. Cormier landed another brutal knee to the body, and more punches. Mir fired off a couple punches. Cormier landed a hard right. He backed off the clinch as the crowd began to boo. Cormier landed a nice straight right and another strike as he drove the clinch back to the cage. Cormier got in a short elbow in the clinch. He backed off again just as the crowd got a little restless. Mir landed a solid right. They clinched again after Mir missed a strike. Now the boo birds came out. Cormier landed a couple more uppercuts. He landed a nice uppercut after grabbing for a guillotine. Mir got in a knee to the body. Cormier landed a brutal uppercut, then another. He backed off with a minute left. Cormier held off a clinch and landed two strikes. He avoided Mir’s shots and landed a huge punch to the gut. They were separated quick in a clinch that time. The second round ended in another stand off with the crowd booing again.

Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. The crowd will always hate clinch work, but Cormier’s been effective and hasn’t just used it to stall. He’s making it look effortless in there right now.

ROUND THREE: Mir landed a high kick to the body. He landed a kick that Cormier caught. It nearly turned into a takedown, but they clinched instead. Mir should have just gone down there. Cormier exploded with another combo. Mir landed a couple of kicks. Mir landed another body kick and an elbow, but got pressed to the cage in clinch again. Cormier landed a few punches and separated. Cormier caught a kick, turned Mir around, and unleashed four strikes before clinching again. Herb Dean yelled at them to work and separated them with two and a half minutes left. Mir landed a hard body kick. He tried to walk Cormier down, but got turned around in the clinch once again. Cormier landed a few body punches. He went for a single leg and Mir tried to drop to guard. Cormier made him stand and landed a couple more strikes. They traded punches in the clinch. Cormier landed an uppercut and a couple more punches. They were separated with 30 seconds left. Cormier landed a two-punch combo. He got in a body kick. Mir landed a right. Mir landed a strike and clinched but ate a couple strikes.

Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. That was the most effective clinch work from a fighter in a really long time. Cormier used the clinch well and opened up with strikes before keeping Mir’s back on the cage. One-sided performance, and even though the live crowd wasn’t a huge fan, that was an impressive fight from Cormier.

WINNER: Cormier via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

STAR RATING: (**+) That wasn’t a bad fight by any stretch. The fans weren’t entirely thrilled with it in the arena, but they were spoiled by a night of finishes. Cormier’s clinch work was excellent, and he picked up yet another major win in the heavyweight division.


UFC 166

October 19, 2013, at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas

ROUND ONE: Nelson took the center as Cormier circled early. Cormier popped in with a jab. He ducked under a right and took Nelson to the ground. Cormier tried to pass but Nelson defended. Cormier landed some strikes from the top. Nelson gave up his back but tried to stand. Cormier looked to drag him back down and did. Cormier landed a knee to the face and went for a single leg. Nelson grabbed his arm for a kimura, but Cormier got out and continued attacking. He dragged Nelson back down and landed some punches before Nelson stood again. Cormier landed a brutal knee to the body. He got in another one but Nelson reacted like he got caught low. On replay it grazed the top of the cup. Nelson took a minute to recover and they restarted with a little over a minute left in the round. Cormier pawed out some jabs but got hit by one from Nelson. Nelson tried to walk him down and they traded punches. Nelson missed the overhand right. Cormier then popped in with a three punch combo. Cormier cracked Nelson with a left hook. Nelson missed the overhand right again and Cormier smiled at him at the horn.

Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. Nelson’s not entirely out of it yet, but that was all Cormier, who showed great defensive instincts to avoid Nelson’s offense.

ROUND TWO: Cormier shot in early and got stuffed. Nelson grazed him with an uppercut. Cormier landed a hard outside leg kick. He faked the shot and got in with a left. Cormier landed a left hook. He landed a push kick to the body. Nelson punched him in the body. He missed the overhand right again. Cormier landed several strikes in combination and rushed into the clinch. He got in a solid knee to the body, then cracked Nelson with a couple of strikes. He scored a takedown, but Nelson got to his feet. Cormier pressed him to the cage. Nelson grabbed for a guillotine standing, but Cormier got out, backed off slightly and landed a flurry. He did it again and landed a couple of strikes. Nelson got separation. Cormier cracked him with a left and a right behind it. Nelson got in a right. Cormier landed a couple of jabs. He landed a winging overhand right but not very hard. He connected on a hard leg kick. Nelson returned fire to the lead leg. Cormier went high with a kick that was blocked. Cormier landed a few strikes. The horn sounded in a stand off.

Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. Nelson’s getting completely out worked here at this point.

ROUND THREE: Cormier threw a front kick that didn’t connect. He got in a couple kicks to the body. Cormier landed the overhand right. Nelson got in a punch to the body. The crowd booed. Cormier landed a left. He got in a kick to the leg, then another. Cormier landed a spinning heel kick to the body. He landed the front kick to the face. He missed a head kick. Cormier landed several punches. He got in a kick to the body. He landed a hard right with a couple strikes behind it. He threw several kicks. He missed the overhand right and looked at the clock. Cormier landed a couple lefts as Nelson whiffed on a couple strikes. Cormier landed a hard right and scored a brief takedown, but he rolled over him and both stood. Cormier landed a push kick. He went up high. Nelson dropped his hands to try taunting him. Nelson tried to rush in and missed. Cormier landed a few more strikes and clinched. Cormier landed some more as Nelson missed. Cormier landed a couple more. Nelson landed a leg kick to bring an end to the round with more boos for Cormier.

Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. Nelson just really didn’t have anything to offer really in this one. Cormier was on another level, but the crowd wasn’t high on it yet again. Not going to help his title hopes.

WINNER: Cormier via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

STAR RATING: (**) Not horrible. Cormier was the better fighter, and landed a lot more strikes overall, but Nelson was clearly not on his level here as expected.

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