"The thing about the beard is it doesn't seem to be well-kept, so I'm going to request that there's a rubber band in it and that it comes straight down," Cormier said this past month. "Also, I'm going to ask that they put his hair in two plaits off to the side. Part it down the middle, plait it on the sides. I don't want it all in my face."
Unfortunately, he said he had no recourse for such a request with Texas' governing body.
"There is no law or rule against his beard, so he can wear it as long as he wants it," Cormier said. " ... He can go out there looking like a grizzly bear if he wants."
Cormier figured it was a long shot, anyway, and he even said he wasn't necessarily determined to get the commission to act on his request. Instead, he suggested he simply wanted to tweak his opponent.
"I was going to make him (trim or braid it) if they let me, but they didn't," he said. "Initially it was a joke. I kind of thought to myself, a lot of fans really like Roy. Roy's a good guy to like. He's cool. He has the beard. He's a little heavier. People like Roy. So they got offended by it."
And that got Cormier thinking. He admits that Nelson's unkempt look is probably bad for a sport that's still trying to earn respect, and he does worry that Nelson's mane could become a distraction, especially if they hit the mat in Saturday's bout. However, Cormier then realized "Beardgate" was a perfect opportunity to unleash some psychological warfare, especially based on the reaction of Nelson's fans.
"If it offends them so much, what is it going to do with the guy with the actual beard?" Cormier said. "So then I started trying to go after his beard. But it's truly not that big of a deal. I don't really care all that much, but why not mess with him if I can?"