UFC 170: EVANS VS. CORMIER Date: Feb. 22, 2013 Location: Las Vegas, Nevada Broadcast: PPV UFC Light Heavyweight Daniel Cormier (-150) Profile: Daniel Cormier (13-0) is a former Olympic freestyle wrestler turned heavyweight powerhouse out of American Kickboxing Academy who has had a rollercoaster’s share of ups and downs. An excruciating 2008 Olympic bid in wrestling led Cormier to be named team captain, but he was unable to compete due to kidney failure during the weight cut. Moving to MMA, Cormier made his pro debut and hasn’t looked back since. Training with Cain Velasquez a host of quality talent out of AKA, Cormier has developed an explosive stand-up game to go along with his dangerous Olympic-level wrestling. He used those skills to plow through the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix as a reserve replacement for Alistair Overeem, knocking off Jeff Monson (unanimous decision), Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (first-round knockout) and Josh Barnett (unanimous decision) en route to the ‘championship.’ Cormier closed out Strikeforce with a second-round TKO of Dion Staring on January 12th, then moved on to the Octagon to dominate Frank Mir and then later Roy Nelson at UFC 166. Cormier refuses to fight his teammate, Velasquez, and will attempt to move down to 205, where he will be a top contender if he can take out Rashad Evans. UFC Light Heavyweight Rashad Evans (+110) Profile: Former UFC light heavyweight champion and winner of The Ultimate Fighter 2, Rashad Evans (19-3-1) has been one of the more recognizable faces in the UFC over the last half-decade. Evans is a true professional of the sport and helped pioneer the next level of MMA training alongside Keith Jardine at Jackson and Winkeljohn’s gym in Alburqurque, New Mexico. He knocked out Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell and had a nearly spotless record before losing his belt to Lyoto Machida at UFC 98. After his loss, he won four in a row, earning his shot at the title he lost, then turned in lackluster performances against champion Jon Jones and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in losses, and then disappointed in a split-decision win over Dan Henderson. But Evans has bounced back and looked like his old self against Chael Sonnen at UFC 167. It was former training partner Jones who caused a rift between him and Jackson, leading Evans to form the Blackzilians in Boca Raton, Florida with Tyrone Spong, Alistair Overeem and Vitor Belfort, just to name just a few. Evans has a dominating style of MMA wrestling to complement his ever-evolving striking. Rashad has looked tentative in his last few fights, almost as if he’s lost his swagger. It must be said, he still is one of the most dangerous vets in the 205 division. Despite being slightly undersized for a light heavyweight at 5-foot-11, he is massively powerful, although his best days could already be behind him at the age of 34. Opening UFC Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas made Cormier a slight -150 betting favorite (bet $150 to win $100), while Evans opened as a +110 dog (bet $100 to win $110) at Several Bookmakers. This should be a very competitive matchup between two of the best wrestlers in the UFC, and it’s a very difficult fight to call, which is why you see the betting line so close. Although Cormier has looked tremendous at heavyweight, this is the first time he is fighting at 205 pounds and there are many questions about the weight cut. But if Cormier can make the weight properly, he will be a dangerous matchup against Evans, because he has excellent wrestling as well as excellent striking, and he’s a bit fresher than Evans, too. But Evans is way more proven in the UFC light heavyweight division, and if he shows up, he can definitely pull off the upset. We’ll see what happens next February.