Will Nelson have to shave?

The rules and regulations for mixed martial artists as commanded by athletic commissions can be a rather lengthy list, and serves as a guideline to govern fights taking place in a particular state, country or province.

Most of the rules set forth are self-explanatory or commonplace in MMA, such as fighters being required to wear athletic cups and mouthpieces for protection and not being allowed to wear shoes or leg braces that contain any kind of metal.

One particular rule that doesn’t come up very often, however, landed in the spotlight a few weeks back when UFC 166 fighter Daniel Cormier decided to raise an issue about his upcoming opponent Roy Nelson.

Cormier said that he planned to complain to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation for Combative Sports about the beard that Nelson sports during his fights. The former Ultimate Fighter winner is known for having a monstrous beard, that goes along with his long hair that’s proudly displayed before and after each fight.

The rule in Texas under the Combative Sports Administrative laws section 61, subsection 111 paragraph F states "each contestant must be clean and present a tidy appearance." Cormier’s argument was that Nelson’s beard, while quite manly, doesn’t exude clean and tidy.

While the rule may seem somewhat inconsequential and forgettable, certain commissions will adhere to those laws such as the Ontario athletic commission prior to UFC 165 in Toronto. Lightweight Pat Healy was required to trim down his beard before he was allowed to fight on the card against Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Cormier just wants the same courtesy extended for his fight against Nelson. He hasn’t actually filed a complaint with the commission yet, but it’s something he’s contemplating.

"You saw that in Canada they made those guys shave, why shouldn’t we get that? Why wouldn’t they do that for us too? I just think it’s good," Cormier explained to FOX Sports. "I think we need it not only for looks but just for everything else. Plus early in the year he said some things about me that didn’t really sit too well with me, so why shouldn’t I hurt him by making him shave his beard?

"We haven’t heard anything yet, and I haven’t even done it, I’ll be honest with you. I haven’t done it yet. I just don’t want a Duck Dynasty beard on me."

(Roy Nelson’s impressive beard has become a hot-button issue for UFC 166 opponent Daniel Cormier)

For his part since the issue was originally brought up by Cormier, Nelson hasn’t heard anything from the UFC or the athletic commission telling him to trim or shave his beard down to an athletically approved length. He’s fine trimming up his facial hair if that’s what’s asked of him, but Nelson isn’t sure why this is becoming an issue as opposed to more important talking points like pre-fight drug testing.

"I guess it bugged me a little bit more that we’re more concerned about my beard than drugs in the sport. That’s kind of scary. At the same time, people are just jealous that you can grow a beard. They’re just upset," Nelson explained.

"I just trimmed it the other day to get rid of the stragglers to make it look pretty. I don’t think it matters."

Nelson is happy to dig into the rulebooks a little further if he’s forced to shave his beard because there are plenty of other laws upheld by commissions that he could make a stink about. The real story here, according to Nelson, is that the entire ordeal is just a stupid distraction when the focus should be on two top ten heavyweights about the throw down in the Octagon.

"If it comes down to a point, I’m just going to start fighting with a t-shirt or a tank top like women do so I can get more sponsors. Cause you can’t say men have to have no shirt versus women have to have a shirt, cause if that’s the thing you can sue them for being sexist and that’s a whole other lawsuit," Nelson said. "We just go out there to fight.

"We don’t get into that political, he said/she said, it’s a fight. Let’s just watch a fight."