28-Year-Old UFC Welterweight 16-2-1
July 16, 2017 Gunnar Nelson News
RotoWire Fantasy Analysis
Nelson lost to Santiago Ponzinibbio via TKO (punches) at 1:22 of Round 1 at UFC Fight Night on Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland
Nelson came into this fight as the favorite, and he looked good early. He utilized his Karate style to bounce in and out and land strikes. However, Ponzinibbio stayed in the fight. The Brazilian landed a vicious counter that rocked Nelson. He could not recover, and Ponzinibbio continue to pour on the punches until the finish. Nelson appeared to be only a few fights away from a title fight prior to this fight. Now, with this loss, he will need to head back to the end of the line.
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Fantasy AnalysisNelson has earned his last five victories by submission and will look for another strong finish in what should turn out to be a highly-anticipated event versus the hard-hitting Ponzinibbio, who's won four in a row in the Octagon since coming off The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 2 in July of 2013.
Fantasy AnalysisNelson used his technique to take the first round against Jouban. He avoided any damage on the feet and scored a takedown. From there, he moved to the mount and dominated with position, but he did not do very much damage. That was not the case in the second round. Jouban came out looking to push the pace on the feet. This left him open for counter shots from Nelson. Nelson landed a series of strikes that wobbled Jouban. Nelson then jumped on a guillotine choke and finished the fight. The fighter from Iceland has now picked up back-to-back wins since falling against Demian Maia at UFC 194.
Fantasy AnalysisNelson is 2-2 in his last four bouts, but before then, hadn't lost a fight in his professional career. He's a submission specialist, and although he lost to arguably the UFC's best grappler in Demian Maia, Nelson is a threat to end the fight any time it gets to the ground. In fact, 11 of his 15 professional victories have come via submission, with his most recent one against Albert Tumenov, who he finished with a second-round neck crank. Nelson, a well-known Icelandic fighter, injects a bit of life into an underwhelming card that has drawn criticism for a lack of big-name fights. Also noteworthy is that he appears to have recovered from the ankle injury that forced him to withdraw from UFC Belfast last October.
Fantasy AnalysisNelson had been scheduled to face Dong Hyun Kim at the event, but twisted his ankle during open workouts, an injury that was actually broadcasted live via social media. Unable to put weight on the afflicted leg, the 28-year-old had no choice but to remove himself from the scheduled bout. The UFC did not schedule a replacement for Nelson, choosing to scrap the fight from the card entirely. Nelson's estimated return date is unknown at this time.
Fantasy AnalysisComing into this fight with a clear plan to get Tumenov on the ground, Nelson executed the plan to perfection. Gunnar absorbed a few big strikes, most notably a huge kick to the body, but he limited the damage and repeatedly was able to take the fight to the mat. In desperate need of a win, it was Nelson's most impressive UFC performance to date. He has now alternated wins and losses in his last four bouts. Gunnar has the ground skills to defeat any man in the world. The question is how his striking will hold up when he is forced to stand on the feet for an extended period of time.
Fantasy AnalysisNelson’s seven-fight UFC career has been a strange one. He has a more than respectable 5-2 record, but he couldn’t have looked any worse in the two losses (Demian Maia, Rick Story) and four of the five wins have come against nobodies. Gunnar has all-world submission skills, but he has very little power on the feet, and his style of fighting is methodical, bordering on boring. Nelson is a good fighter, probably a top-ten welterweight, but it’s difficult to see him win this fight anyway other than submission. Surely Tumenov knows the same thing.
Fantasy AnalysisThe scores alone should tell you the kind of night it was for Gunnar. Nelson is an elite ground specialist, but he just wasn’t able to compete with the skills of the Brazilian. Nelson spent an awful lot of time on his back and while he was able to end up in top in a few of the exchanges, he could never remain there for any significant amount of time. Nelson absorbed a ton of damage in the fight, most of it to his head. To make matters worse, he landed virtually nothing of his own. Nelson’s first career loss against Rick Story was a fight where he got beat up on the feet, but this was the first time in his career that he got schooled on the mat. Gunnar is going to need a bounce back effort his next time out.
Fantasy AnalysisIt speaks to Nelson's submission acumen that he's listed as almost dead-even with the high-level black belt Maia. Nelson, who has competed on the same card as SBG teammate Conor McGregor in two of his last three fights, has just one blemish on his record: a decision loss to Rick Story in Oct. 2014. MMA fans will be in for a treat when Maia and Nelson trade submission attempts Saturday.
Fantasy AnalysisIt should be quite a matchup between two elite ground specialists. 10 of Nelson's 14 career victories have come via submission. He choked out Brandon Thatch in the first round of his late fight in mid-July. Nelson is the younger of the two fighters, but Maia is going to have a massive experience edge in this fight.
Fantasy AnalysisIn a fight where Thatch's striking was expected to be the difference, it was the striking of Nelson that led to the finish. He landed a beautiful combination to drop Thatch and went to work from there. As soon as Nelson was able to get Thatch to the ground, that was all she wrote. Nelson has long been viewed as a guy who is an elite grappler but struggles with his striking. He showed a vast improvement in that area on Saturday. It was an awfully impressive performance.
Fantasy AnalysisThere have been calls for Nelson to move down to the lightweight division and expect those calls to get even louder if he comes up short on Saturday. Nelson is a talented grappler but his style is very boring to watch and it isn't conducive to defeating bigger fighters such as Thatch. Nelson was embarrassed by Rick Story in his last fight, his first professional loss.
Fantasy AnalysisIt was reported earlier in the day that Hathaway was injured and out of the fight and Nelson didn't have to wait long to find out his replacement. The bout will still be on the main card. Nelson is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Rick Story, his first as a professional, in October 2014.
Fantasy AnalysisNelson is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Rick Story -- the first defeat of his professional career. Hathaway would have been a formidable opponent, but it remains to be seen who the UFC will call upon to replace him in the bout. The No. 15-ranked welterweight will now play the waiting game while continuing to train for the July 11 event.