Bryan Barberena explains why fighting ‘legend’ Gunnar Nelson at UFC 286 is a big deal for him
Bryan Barberena is excited to fight Gunnar Nelson at UFC 286.
Nelson was originally supposed to fight Daniel Rodriguez, but D-Rod withdrew from the fight and Barberena stepped up on short notice. Although Barberena is a sizeable underdog, he says he jumped at the chance to fight Nelson as he says ‘Gunni’ is a legend and is a big fight for him.
“Actually, I pumped about the name. After the last fight and everything, I was bitter about it, bitter about my performance. I went right back to work and I think this fight kind of lines up perfectly for what I want to display and what I want to show. Gunnar is a legend in himself, especially in Europe and all over here,” Barberena said at UFC 286 media day. “Now they’re bringing in another legend, legend vs. legend fight, so that’s exciting. And honestly, I think for the fanbase and everything, I think this is a bigger fight than the original one.”
Although Gunnar Nelson is the betting favorite, he hasn’t fought in a year so many wonder how he will deal with the layoff. Yet, Barberena is confident Nelson will be at his best which is why he thinks this fight is such a big deal.
“I’m familiar with layoffs as well so I expect him to be the best version of himself,” Barberena said. “I expect the best Gunnar, I think he’s going to come out firing, I think he’s going to come out ready to extend his win streak and make a run for the top again. He’s a legend and I think he’s still held high in the fighting community, in the world, and in the rankings. So, it’s a big deal, it’s a big fight, and like I said, I’m ready to go.”
Barberena is coming off a submission loss to Rafael dos Anjos to snap his three-fight win streak.
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Cole Shelton covers MMA for BJPenn.com, MMANews, and MyMMANews.com while also being the lead MMA odds writer for Sports Betting Dime