Cormier: Nelson's chin has expiration date

In the week leading up to Jon Jones’ sixth UFC title defense last month, how many of you would have traded in Alexander Gustafsson for Daniel Cormier?

Fifty percent? Higher than that. Sixty percent? Seventy?

Despite being told about 7,849 times how tall and long-armed Gustafsson was, few predicted he would give Jones all he could handle through five rounds in Toronto. If you did predict it, a sincere congratulations. And safe flight back to Sweden.

Cormier, though -- he’s an unflattering 0-0 at 205 pounds, but many had pegged the undefeated heavyweight as the most intriguing challenge to Jones’ title reign.

At least, up until that Gustafsson performance. As much as Cormier enjoyed watching UFC 165 as a fan, the light heavyweight contender inside him knew what the close fight meant: He is most likely no longer the most attractive Jones opponent.

“You know what, man, after the way Gustafsson fought him, I think the interest has gone down a little bit,” Cormier said, on a potential title fight against Jones.

“I think it’s all a matter of who can challenge Jon. When a guy looks so dominant, people look for a guy who can challenge him. I was that guy. Now Gustafsson is that guy.”

Nevertheless, Cormier (12-0) is headed to Jones’ light-heavyweight world regardless of what happens in his next fight, a heavyweight tilt against Roy Nelson at UFC 166 this weekend.

As popular as Cormier has become, and in such meteoric fashion, he doesn't fit the description of a fighter who needs a dominant performance, but that’s kind of the case here, considering Cormier's title aspirations.

Fact is, he’s not a shoe-in to just immediately face Jones at light heavyweight anymore. On top of that, his UFC debut against Frank Mir earlier this year was, although one-sided, a little disappointing to Cormier and his fans.

“I could use an impressive fight,” Cormier said. “For me, it would be great to go out and have the type of performance I expect out of myself.

“If I have the type of performance I hope to have next week, I’m going to get up there and ask for (a title shot) again. I’m going to continue knocking on that door and hopefully someone answers it. If not, I’m going to ask for a real important fight in the 205-pound division.”

As a 5-to-1 favorite, Cormier is widely expected to get a win over Nelson (19-8) -- but making a huge statement against him becomes more difficult.

It’s hard to say whose highlight DVD would sell better: Nelson’s right hand’s or his chin’s.

He’s only been knocked out once (and never in the UFC), a crazy feat considering the following: In Nelson’s last fight, Stipe Miocic landed 106 strikes on him. The year before that, Fabricio Werdum tagged him 91 times. Prior to that, Junior dos Santos hit this man an astounding 130 times.

Cormier says he’s mentally prepared to deal with an opponent who refuses to go down, but he also says a good chin is like a carton of milk. It eventually goes bad.

“Every person, every tough guy you’ve ever seen fight, whether it’s in boxing or martial arts who is known for having a great chin -- there’s an expiration date on that,” Cormier said.

“There’s a number these guys can take. What if the last one from Stipe Miocic was the one that was one too many? Maybe the expiration date on Roy’s chin was up in Canada [Miocic fight]. Maybe mine are the ones he can’t take.”