Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweights Gunnar Nelson and Omari Akhmedov kicked off the main card of UFC Fight Night 37 yesterday (Sat., March 8, 2014) from O2 Arena in London, England.
After being absent from the Octagon since UFC on Fuel TV 9 last year, Icelandic Brazilian jiu-jitsu master Nelson sought to keep his undefeated mixed martial arts (MMA) record intact.
"Gunni" had his hands full with dangerous Sambo practitioner Akhmedov, who made a thunderous Octagon debut last year, finishing Thiago Perpetuo at UFC Fight Night 32.
With only one loss between them, this had the potential to be a closely matched affair. However, it was far from it, as Nelson kept his record spotless with a one-sided throttling of a tough opponent in Akhmedov. Let's take a look back at the convincing win from London.
Nelson came out with his wide karate stance to control the Octagon. "Gunni" was cutting off his opponent's angles, but Akhmedov countered with a few shots.
However, he looked tentative and uncomfortable throughout the entire first round, something that may have lead to his demise.
Nelson landed a big straight right and immediately took the fight to the ground, achieving the mount to rain down shots. With no answer for Nelson's smothering ground game, Akhmedov ate a ton of sharp elbows and punches. Akhmedov left himself open for an armbar, but ultimately another submission soon finished the bout.
"Gunni" locked on a slick guillotine choke that left Akhmedov with no choice but to tap out towards the end of the opening frame.
It was a thoroughly dominant return performance that immediately puts Nelson on the outside of a Top 15 rankings spot. He had been out of the cage for a significant amount of time, yet he showed no ill effects of the layoff. His karate-based striking looked sharp enough to drop Akhmedov early in the fight, and his lethal ground game was never in question.
Still, he's going to have to make some improvements in his striking to truly contend with the best. Welterweight is populated with killers right now, and that means "Gunni" could have some very tough bouts coming up soon.
If UFC wants to throw him to the wolves, Nelson would be an interesting opponent for slumping grappling ace Demian Maia. Other bouts that make sense for Nelson are Mike Pyle or perhaps the loser of UFC 171's Jake Shields vs. Hector Lombard contest.
Akhmedov will have to go back to the drawing board after a disheartening defeat. He failed to mount much of an offense save for a few fleeting shots early on, and he could never find his groove against the stalking Nelson. He'll return to the preliminary card to regroup. Akhmedov still has the potential to have a very bright UFC future. A fight against a mid-level opponent will help gauge where he's truly at after a one-sided loss.
Gunnar Nelson made a triumphant return to the Octagon after a long hiatus. Does the undefeated Icelander truly have a chance to be a player in the ultra-stacked UFC welterweight division?