First-round win the only way for Nelson at UFC 166

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The third instalment of the Cain Velasquez v Junior Dos Santos trilogy for the UFC heavyweight title is not the only showdown involving two of the largest fighters in the organisation at UFC 166.

In the co-main event, Velasquez’ training partner Daniel Cormier puts his undefeated MMA record on the line, with Roy Nelson in the way of a 13th career victory.

Cormier is the heavy favourite for victory at 1/6, with Nelson hoping to work his way back into the heavyweight title picture after defeat to Stipe Miocic in his last fight at UFC 161.

This is significant as Nelson has lost each of his last two and six of his last seven fights to have gone beyond the first round.

Nelson’s obvious main weapon is the one-punch power that he possesses, but he is not generally a frequent puncher or a fighter with strong stamina to see out three five-minute rounds.

He was short of speed, wrestling ability and footwork against Miocic, landing just 23 significant strikes across the three rounds, in comparison to over 100 for his opponent.

Bearing in mind that Cormier represented the US at wrestling in successive Olympic Games in 2004 and 2008, he will also have a substantial wrestling advantage, while he is known to have the cardio to continually throw punches.

In his last nine bouts, Cormier has not come out worse than his opponent in terms of the number of significant strikes landed and the longer this fight goes, the more he has to be favoured.

Nelson is 9/2 to win this fight against Cormier, who will drop to light-heavyweight in the future regardless of the outcome.

But those fancying an upset, may as well take the 11/1 that Nelson triumphs in the opening round, given his awful record when bouts get beyond the opening five minutes.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.