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UFC Fight Night 87 fight card: Albert Tumenov vs Gunnar Nelson full fight preview

Albert Tumenov and Gunnar Nelson will go to war this Sunday (May 8, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 87 inside Ahoy Rotterdam in Rotterdam, Netherlands. In a serious clash of styles, what adjustments must be made for either man to claim victory? Find out below!

Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight up-and-comers Albert Tumenov and Gunnar Nelson will duel this Sunday (May 8, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 87 inside Ahoy Rotterdam in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Since losing his debut in a close loss, Tumenov has been on a tear. He's won his last five fights and finished three of them, showing off some serious skill for a 24-year-old and looking like a potential contender.

After opening his UFC career in similarly great fashion, Nelson has suffered a pair of difficult setbacks lately. This is an important bout for Nelson, as he can either confirm or lose his position inside the rankings based on this result.

Let's take a look at the keys to victory for each fighter:

Albert Tumenov
Record: 17-2
Key Wins: Lorenz Larkin (UFC 195), Alan Jouban (UFC 192), Nico Musoke (UFC on FOX 14)
Key Losses: Ildemar Alcantara (UFC Fight Night 36)
Keys to Victory: Tumenov has some serious credentials backing up his accomplishments inside the Octagon. The Russian striker is a national master of sports in boxing and master of sports in hand-to-hand combat, which should help explain his 11 knockout wins.

In this bout, Tumenov does have to be careful. He must walk the tight rope between stalking his opponent and cutting off the cage without overreaching and running into a counter or takedown.

Being put on his back against Nelson would be a grave issue.

Luckily, Tumenov has shown the ability to put together smart combinations without losing his stance. He'll need a lot of volume and to constantly focus on tracking his opponent down, but Tumenov should be able to get his usual offensive kickboxing working.

One thing Tumenov should look to do frequently is counter his opponent's straight punches. Nelson only occasionally plants his feet to return a cross, but that's Tumenov's opportunity to slip the strike and rip into his opponent.


Gunnar Nelson
Record: 14-2-1
Key Wins: Brandon Thatch (UFC 189), Zak Cummings (UFC Fight Night 46), Jorge Santiago (UFC on FUEL TV 7)
Key Losses: Demain Maia (UFC 194), Rick Story (UFC Fight Night 53)
Keys to Victory: Nelson is a fairly unique athlete. A smaller Welterweight, Nelson has been able to climb into the top 15 thanks to his karate background and exceptional jiu-jitsu skill.

At the moment, there's a lot of doubt concerning Nelson's future at Welterweight, but it should be mentioned that his two recent losses were to a pair of the division's best veterans. Story is an exceptionally smart and durable fighter, whereas Maia -- being perhaps the best jiu-jitsu ace in the sport -- was a bad match up for Nelson.

Still, Nelson must win this bout, and he does have a clear path to victory. It's been a couple years now, but Tumenov did not do well from his back against the last jiu-jitsu fighter he faced, so it's unlikely that the Russian can compete with Nelson on the mat.

To drag his foe to the canvas, Nelson has to rely on his movement a lot. Tumenov is an aggressive boxer and will chase Nelson, which is the Icelandic athlete's chance to change levels and score a takedown.

Once on top, Nelson is in fantastic position to finish his opponent.

Bottom Line: This bout is quite important for both fighters and does have an impact on the division.

In just about two years, Tumenov has already earned the reputation as one of his division's fiercest strikers. If he can snatch Nelson's spot in the rankings, it won't be long before he's earned a seriously high-profile match up.

Tell me that Albert Tumenov versus the likes of Matt Brown, Carlos Condit and eventually Robbie Lawler isn't something most fight fans would love to see. On the other hand, defeat here means that Tumenov needs to slow his roll. It's not the end of the world, as Nelson is a very skilled fighter, and Tumenov is still a fairly young fighter.

The stakes are extraordinarily high for Nelson. If he loses another fight here -- his third of his last four -- then Nelson is out of the Top 15 and may be forced to consider a move to Lightweight or some other drastic measure. Alternatively, a win proves that Nelson is still a player at Welterweight. He may need a decent win streak to make any sort of title run, but Nelson's time among the elite is not done just yet.

At UFC Fight Night 87, Albert Tumenov and Gunnar Nelson will look to climb the Welterweight ladder. Which man will take another step forward?

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