The UFC 166 heavyweight match scheduled between Daniel Cormier and Roy Nelson took an interesting turn today as the Texas Athletic Commission ruled that Nelson can keep his beard for their match this weekend. Right now, Cormier sits as a strong (-625) favorite over Nelson, who comes back at (+425). Could the beard actually play any role in the fight?
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Well, it was Cormier that made an issue of it, seeking to have the Commission force Nelson to shave the beard. UFC President Dana White chimed in on Cormier’s behalf. Now that the commission has ruled that Nelson can keep the beard, it is going to be on everyone’s mind.
Now, Cormier is a disciplined, experienced athlete who has competed at a world level under a lot of pressure, so it this beard issue should not be that big a deal. But with the scrutiny UFC athletes receive nowadays, look for Cormier to be asked about it until it just gets annoying.
There are a couple of potential scenarios where the beard could be a factor. Both men have a wrestler base, with Cormier being the superior of the two. By virtue of that wrestling, Cormier is expected to set the tone and pace of the fight. Nelson, who had three KO’s in a row prior to his recent loss to Stipe Miocic, will be looking to land one big punch that will change the fight.
So what if Cormier is clinching, and Nelson gets a few good beard rubs on him? Or what if Nelson ties up Cormier after getting taken down, and Cormier winds up with a face full of beard?
No the beard in and of itself will win him the fight, and Cormier is an athlete whose resume says he should remian composed, but what if it causes Cormier to hesistate? What if Cormier spends a split second during the fight thinking ‘I told them that beard in my face would be disgusting’? Is that split second enough to change the fight? If Nelson gets handed that hand, he will play it….