HOUSTON — The most talked-about beard in sports outside of Boston will be on full display tonight.
Daniel Cormier has dropped his pursuit to require opponent Roy Nelson to shave before their heavyweight bout at UFC 166.
Cormier has been threatening for weeks to file a formal complaint with the Texas athletic commission in an effort to make the Las Vegan either completely shave, or at least trim, his trademark bushy facial hair.
Cormier finally conceded defeat on the matter this week.
“There’s nothing we can do, boys, it’s official,” Cormier told a group of reporters. “There is no rule against his beard, so he can wear it as long as he wants. I called and found out that there’s nothing they can do. He can go out and look like a grizzly bear if he wants.”
The normally quippy Nelson has had little to say about the matter.
“Everybody is always entitled to their opinion,” said Nelson, whose boxing coach, Jeff Mayweather, was hospitalized during much of his training camp. “There was stuff more important than worrying about my beard.”
Cormier said while the request started out as a joke, he increased the rhetoric because he believed he could score mental points before the fight.
“A lot of fans really like Roy. He’s a cool guy. He has that beard; he’s kind of heavier. People really like that guy, and they got offended by it,” Cormier said. “I was thinking, ‘If it offends them so much, what is it going to do to the guy with the actual beard?’ So I started trying to go after the beard. It’s surely not that big a deal. I don’t really care all that much, but why not mess with him a little bit?
“I really was going to make him shave if they let me, but they didn’t.”
Cormier is convinced his efforts paid dividends.
“I think it had the desired effect,” he said. “It seemed to bother him, so it worked.”
Contact reporter Adam Hill at email@example.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.