HOUSTON -- While the trilogy fight between heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and former titleholder Junior dos Santos commanded the bulk of the attention heading into Saturday's UFC 166 in Houston, another featured fighter was a noteworthy presence during Friday's weigh-ins at the Toyota Center.
Daniel Cormier, a former U.S. Olympic wrestler, was to meet Roy Nelson in a heavyweight co-feature bout on Saturday. Cormier is Velasquez's training partner at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., and is considered by most the No. 3 heavyweight behind Velasquez and dos Santos.
The 12-0 Cormier plans to drop to light heavyweight after Saturday in order to avoid the collision course with his friend. To ease the transition from the 265-pound weight class to 205, Cormier experimented with losing a considerable chunk of weight for the fight.
Indeed, it was a trim Cormier who stepped onto the scales Friday, weighing 25 pounds less than Nelson at 224.
"I'm still going to do it," Cormier told MMAFighting.com about the impending weight-class change. "I've already started to lose weight and keep an eye on the division. Things can always change with a great performance. As we've seen in the past, a guy can put himself in the position that he probably didn't think he had before if he can do something unexpected in a fight or look really good in a fight."
NOTES: Although Velasquez went into Saturday's fight as champion and dos Santos the divisional No. 2, the latter has the champ beaten on one count: dos Santos has eight career UFC knockouts, a company record. Velasquez is second with seven. ... UFC 166 was a near-instantaneous sellout when tickets were put on sale during the summer. But when the UFC's production crew got to Houston earlier in the week, they decided to scrap the usual setup of big screens placed in the upper deck because the Toyota Center features an extra-large scoreboard over center court. As a result, the company put an extra 1,100 tickets on sale, which were quickly snapped up. All told, the company expects about 16,000 fans and a gate of $2.5 million.