Yesterday (Sat., July 19, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweights Gunnar Nelson and Zak Cummings threw down in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 46, which aired live on Fight Pass from O2 Arena in Dublin, Ireland.
No. 13-ranked "Gunni" came in off a first round submission of Omari Akhmedov at London's UFC Fight Night 37. The win gave the well-rounded combatant three straight victories in the Octagon, but he hadn't exactly faced the toughest opponents.
A chance to break through into some truly top-level bouts awaited the Icelander if he could past Cummings, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17 veteran who upset Brazilian slugger Yan Cabral at UFC Fight Night 40 in May.
He made a quick turnaround to face the dangerous Nelson in hostile territory. When it was all said and done, perhaps he should have stayed home, as Nelson stayed perfect with his vaunted grappling.
The bout began with Nelson upright in his karate stance. "Gunni" looked to clinch and was reversed by Cummings, who landed some short punches. Nelson landed a knee up the middle and a strong right hook, following with a straight right. Cummings was throwing but missing as Nelson landed a body kick.
Nelson missed with a punch of his own and Cummings capitalized by taking his back briefly. The fighters clinched and broke, with Cummings throwing a body kick. He looked for a switch kick and landed his jab, putting the pressure on the smaller Nelson with some big shots in the final minute of the opening round.
The second frame started with more pressure from Cummings. He returned to the clinch and landed an uppercut and a big hook, making the fight ugly as planned. A few knees followed as the action returned to the center of the Octagon. Nelson landed a right and Cummings some low kicks. He rushed forward with two flurries and was countered as Nelson snapped a crisp right and a body kick.
Cummings sought a single leg but was locked up in a front headlock from Nelson, who immediately transitioned to his back with a body triangle. Nelson began landing some damaging shots before locking on a rear naked choke, earning the tap with only seconds left in the round.
Nelson picked up his fourth straight UFC win with his third Octagon submission. He's now ready for a top-ranked opponent, and will be a massive star for the promotion in Europe.
Rumors have Nelson matched up with No. 2-ranked Rory MacDonald, a fight that would be an absolutely huge step up in competition for "Gunni." However, he most likely has a lot of work to do before he has a legitimate shot at a much bigger test like "Ares."
Despite the announcers constantly singing his praises in the striking department, it was Cummings who landed the harder shots and was applying the most pressure. Perhaps that was Nelson's gameplan all along, and it worked.
But it won't always be like that in a UFC welterweight division full of murderous and powerful contenders. Nelson has yet to face off with an opponent ranked in the Top 15; we'll have to see how he responds to that challenge first.
He's no doubt a top shelf grappler who has a good shot at rising up the ranks. A fight with sliding No. 7-ranked Jake Ellenberger or No. 11-ranked Kelvin Gastelum would make sense for the dangerous "Gunni," as would a bout with Ryan LaFlare, his original opponent on this card.
Cummings lost by stoppage after fighting a close bout until he unraveled. He was definitely more aggressive, but he has some technical aspects to shore up before he makes any serious waves at 170 pounds.
A fight with a lower-ranked Top 25 type of opponent will most likely await him. The pressure of fighting Nelson in Ireland may have got the better of him tonight; it'll be interesting to see how he bounces back in his next bout Stateside.
For complete UFC Fight Night 46 results and play-by-play click here.
Gunnar Nelson continues to impress with his world-class grappling skills, earning his fourth consecutive UFC win by submitting Zak Cummings at UFC Fight Night 46. But is "Gunni" truly ready for a top-ranked challenge?