It appears we have the return of Iceland’s Gunnar Nelson (18-5-1) on tap for late winter, as he’s slated to face Daniel Rodriguez (17-3) at UFC 286.
UFC 286 is to go down live from the o2 Arena in London, England, on March 18, 2023.
We haven’t seen much out of Gunnar Nelson lately, he’s fought just once in the last three and a half years.
Nelson first came to the UFC in September of 2012 with a record of 9-0-1, all nine wins coming via finish with five submissions and four knockouts.
The Iceland native was just 24 years of age at his time. He’d already claimed a silver medal at the 2009 IBJJF World Jiu-Jitsu Championships as a brown belt, an IBJJF gold medal at the Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Championships as a brown belt, as well as a gold medal at the IBJJF Pan American Jiu-Jitsu championships in the black belt middleweight division, and then a silver medal at that same tournament in the absolute division.
Nelson was awarded his BJJ black belt under Renzo Gracie at just 19 years of age, and he also won three Kumite Karate championships before turning 18 years old, boasting a black belt in Goji-ryu Karate.
Following a 4-0 run to begin his tenure with the UFC, Nelson was now 13-0-1 as a professional, having secured another three submission victories, before he’d lose a five round split decision to Rick Story.
But hey, Story was the first man to defeat future welterweight champion Johny Hendricks as well, no shame there.
Nelson would then submit (rear naked choke) highly touted up and comer Brandon Thatch, before being absolutely mauled by another BJJ ace in 5th-degree black belt Demian Maia. Nelson then submitted both Albert Tumenov (neck crank) and Alan Jouban (guillotine choke) over his next two outings.
Nelson was now 16-2-1 as a pro, but this is where his career would get a little rocky, as he was upset by Santiago Ponzinibbio in July of 2017, being KO’d just 82 seconds into the opening round. Nelson would return a year and a half later to submit Alex Oliveira (rear naked choke) in an all-out war, before dropping his next two to current UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards (SD) and future title challenger Gilbert Burns (UD).
Both of those fights were in 2019, and he’s fought just one time since, where he defeated Takashi Sato via unanimous decision on March 19, 2022, which would make his return this March 364 days out from his latest performance.
Daniel Rodriguez on the other hand has fought a whopping ten times since Nelson’s fight with Burns, including all of his UFC bouts and one bout prior to joining.
Rodriguez would come to the UFC in February of 2020, initially winning his first three straight with two finishes over the likes of Tim Means (guillotine choke) and Dwight Grant (KO), before losing a controversial unanimous decision to Nicolas Dalby.
Another four-fight win streak would follow, defeating the likes of Mike Perry (UD), Kevin Lee (UD), and Li Jingliang (SD), before dropping his most recent performance to Neil Magny (D’Arce choke) last November.
Who comes out of this welterweight match up at UFC 286 on top?
If you enjoyed this piece, feel free to share it on social media!
I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I saw, and the fight that got me hooked on the sport. Since then, the sport has grown so rapidly, and my goal is to enlighten everyone on what’s going on in the sport today.