If you wrote off Gunnar Nelson, you did so too soon.
The Icelandic welterweight announced his return to the world on Saturday night at UFC 231, when he got into a dogfight with a game Alex Oliveira. Nelson used nasty elbows to set Oliveira up for the winning rear-naked choke.
He got the tap at the 4:17 mark of the second round at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
“It ended the way I expected,” Nelson said. “I believe he hit me in the back of the head, he caught me with the shot and got me a little bit disorientated. I was surviving there, but I was able to finish the job.”
Indeed, Oliveira engaged in questionable tactics from the outset, drilling Nelson in the back of the head with an early strike. Not long thereafter, he produced one of the most blatant fence-grabs you’ll ever see to stop a sure takedown, which got a predictable warning without a point deduction from ref Jerin Valel.
Nelson continued to work Oliveira over on the mat when things took a turn. In a full body lock, Oliveira managed to nonetheless land right hands across his body to Nelson’s head and force a break. The Brazilian nicknamed “Cowboy” went on to land a score of big shots from top position. But Nelson calmly took the damage and got Oliveira into an ankle lock before the round was out.
Nelson took over in the second, got his opponent to the mat, and then put on a clinic. He constantly improved his position, starting landing shots after shot, and then landed a killer elbow which opened a horrific cut on Oliveira’s forehead. The bout likely would have been stopped for blood and Nelson not availed himself to finish the fight with the choke.
“He’s a scrappy son of a b*tch,” Nelson said of his foe.
With his 13th career submission win, the former World Jiu-Jitsu Championships silver medalist improved to 17-4-1 in his career, 8-3 in the UFC. Oliveira (20-6-1, 2 NC) had a two-fight win streak snapped.