I think the question on the mind of many fightfans leading up to UFC 170 is whether former light heavyweight champ Rashad Evans will be able to: A) stuff the takedowns of former Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier and B) whether Evans can in turn take down D.C. Based on his 48-34 won/loss record as a D1 wrestler at Michigan St., the obvious answer would seem to suggest that Evans has no business in Cormier's wrestling world. But if there is one guy in this sport, besides GSP, who has proven time and again throughout his career that collegiate and MMA wrestling are vastly different, it is Rashad Evans.
In January 2012 Evans made easy work of Phil Davis, a much more accomplished collegiate wrestler, mostly due to his superior wrestling ability that night. I certainly do recognize that Phil Davis the wrestler and Daniel Cormier the wrestler are totally different animals, with Cormier's wrestling accomplishments coming at the highest possible level. But would it surprise any of us if Rashad is able to successfully mix in a few takedowns in this fight? Personally I would not be surprised, and I'm even expecting it. Here's why:
Throughout his career, Rashad has shown us that elite athleticism, commitment to a gameplan, and well-timed takedowns are paramount to a successful MMA wrestler. With the exception of GSP and Chael Sonnen, does anyone in the sport have a better blast double leg than Rashad? His ability to mix it seamlessly with his striking is what makes him so dangerous. If Cormier is content to let this be a kickboxing match, I think you'll see Rashad repeatedly surprise Cormier by mixing in well-timed double leg takedowns. Rashad also likes to take opponents down when he gets them pressed to the cage, but I don't think he'll be able to do that against Cormier, simply because Cormier will see it coming a mile away.
In addition to great timing, I think Rashad is the rare fighter in the UFC that is athletically superior to Cormier. I know Cormier is shaped like a Mr. Potato Head, but you don't get to be Captain of the U.S. Olympic squad without elite level athleticism. With that said, I believe Evans is the faster fighter here and it could prove the difference.
Now if both of these guys decide to forgo the wrestling, an entirely common theme when two strong grapplers meet in the cage, then this becomes an intriguing kickboxing match. But if Evans stays committed to his wrestling, I think he could surprise a lot of people in this fight with some takedowns.