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UFC Fight Night 107 fight card: Gunnar Nelson vs Alan Jouban preview

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Tumenov vs Nelson Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight rising contenders Gunnar Nelson and Alan Jouban will collide this Saturday (March 18, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 107 inside The 02 in London, England.

It’s been a bit of an odd path lately for Nelson, who has alternated wins and losses in his last four bouts. He doesn’t hold any victories over currently ranked fighters, but Nelson is nonetheless ranked inside the Top 10. Opposite Jouban, Nelson will deal with another quite tough, but ultimately unranked, opponent and try to put consecutive wins together. As for Jouban, he’s been calling for a step up in competition and received one. He’s only in his sixth year as a professional athlete, but the 35-year-old needs to take advantage of this opportunity if he wants to impact the title mix.

Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both men:

Gunnar Nelson
Record: 15-2-1
Key Wins: Zak Cummings (UFC Fight Night 46), Albert Tumenov (UFC Fight Night 87), Brandon Thatch (UFC 189), Jorge Santiago (UFC on FUEL TV 7)
Key Losses: Demian Maia (UFC 194), Rick Story (UFC Fight Night 53)
Keys to Victory: Nelson is a fantastic Brazilian jiu-jitsu player with a background in Karate as well. In mixed martial arts (MMA), that translates into an elusive counter striker with great timing on his takedowns, a combination that has proven quite effective so far.

In this bout, Nelson’s ability to land takedowns is a definite factor. Both men are skilled in all areas, but Nelson tends to find most of his success on the mat, whereas Jouban prefers to throw heavy shots on the feet. That may be a bit simplistic, but Nelson’s chances are definitely better on the mat. In a straight up wrestling match, it’s not clear who will hold the advantage, but Nelson can do a couple things to gain the edge.

Both men like to kick from the outside, but a caught kick can pretty easily be turned into a takedown. If Nelson can match output and threaten to catch kicks from that range, it will put some pressure on Jouban to close the distance and get his punches going. On opponents moving forward, Nelson’s reactive takedown historically has been very successful.


Alan Jouban
Record: 15-4
Key Wins: Mike Perry (UFC on FOX 22), Belal Muhammad (UFC Fight Night 90), Seth Baczynski (UFC Fight Night 47)
Key Losses: Albert Tumenov (UFC 192), Warley Alves (UFC Fight Night 56)
Keys to Victory: A Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, Jouban is a man who definitely loves to fight. The Muay Thai specialist has scored nine knockouts and is pretty comfortable wherever the fight goes.

If Jouban can keep this bout standing, he’s got a great chance here. Jouban fights well at range, in the pocket, and especially in the clinch, whereas Nelson tends to remain far away from opponents whenever possible. That’s a definite advantage for Jouban if he plays his cards right.

In his last bout, Jouban maintained distance with great discipline, avoiding the brawl and chewing up Mike Perry’s lead leg and body with great kicks. In this bout, the opposite approach would make sense, as Jouban should attempt to close range into the pocket. While doing so, however, he’ll have to keep his feet underneath him and not reach for the Icelandic athlete, as the takedown is a real threat.

Jouban could definitely look to take a page from Rick Story’s book and kick his opponent’s legs early and often. Story also landed hard shots in the clinch when Nelson pushed forward with takedowns, and that’s a range where Jouban has scored multiple knockouts in the past.

Bottom Line: This is an excellent match up and should produce a quality fight.

Nelson’s losses to Story and Maia were definitely setbacks, and this is another fight to help him recover from them. With a second straight win over a tough fighter, Nelson could once again look ahead of himself in the rankings and fight a fellow top 10 athlete.

With a win, Nelson isn’t far off from the strap.

On the other hand, a loss sends Nelson back to the drawing board. He very clearly has talent, but losing three of five will deflate his title chances quite a bit. Meanwhile, this is Jouban’s big chance. Were it not for a wonky decision, Jouban would be 7-1 inside the Octagon, which is a damn solid achievement even if some opponents have been middling. If he can follow his consistent success up with a Top 10 win, “Brahma” should be considered a contender.

Unfortunately, a loss wipes the slate clean. Jouban will be forced to earn another big match up like this, and he may not have all that much time to do so considering his age.

At UFC Fight Night 107, Gunnar Nelson and Alan Jouban will duel in a pivotal Welterweight match up. Which fighter will have his hand raised?

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