Gunnar Nelson is coming up against one of the UFC welterweight division’s most intensely violent customers at UFC 231 but believes that he can use that to his advantage.
After lay-off that has lasted close to eighteen months, Nelson’s return to the UFC octagon has seen him paired up with the highly-dangerous Alex Oliveira – a man who has been carving out a reputation for himself as one of the biggest action fighters in the sport.
Oliveira is best known to most for his incredible Fight of the Year showdown against Yancy Medeiros back at UFC 218 last year – a matchup he, of course, lost in but all in all, he has been able to put together a strong run of form in the last two years – going (6-1, 1 NC) since his submission defeat to Donald Cerrone in 2016.
Nelson is wary of the fact that he’ll be in there with a proven finisher this weekend but stressed his belief that Cowboy’s overeagerness will be his downfall.
Speaking to us here at Pundit Arena MMA, Gunnar explained his thoughts on what his opponent brings to the table.
“He’s a great fighter, he’s powerful, athletic. He’s a little bit wild but he likes to get in there and throw down and stuff – I believe that’s what he’ll come into do.
“He won’t want to go with the ground with me even though he’s not bad on the ground. I still think he will want this fight to stay on the feet.
“I picture him coming in for the knockout, coming in a bit wild. I’ll be able to capitalise on that.”
The potential that Nelson has shown has been beyond any doubt for some time now. Even prior to fighting Santiago Ponzinibbio – there did seem to be the sense that he was ready to make his long-awaited run at the title.
Of course, his last fight ended under highly controversial circumstances but now, with the path to the welterweight upper echelons ahead of him, Gunnar believes that his time to achieve his goals is now.
“I was on a good run before the last one, the Ponzinibbio fight, and I would very much like to correct and I think I will.
“Obviously, it was a very long layoff, which was not the plan, but I believe this is the beginning of it you know. I’m going to start the proper climb now and get up there, fast.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena