Gunnar Nelson: The UFC’s New Silent Assassin – And Contender

Photo credit - Steve Flynn for USA TODAY Sports
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No. 9-ranked UFC welterweight Gunnar Nelson put on another brilliant performance on Saturday, submitting Alan Jouban with a slick guillotine choke at UFC Fight Night 107 in London.

The Straight Blast Gym product may not share the trash-talking prowess of his teammate Conor McGregor, but Nelson has quietly ascended to the top of the welterweight division regardless.

That’s not to say the Iceland native didn’t have a good deal of hype when he signed with the UFC back in 2012. At the time, Nelson was a perfect 9-0, and was already well known as a European prospect with submission chops and an unorthodox yet effective karate-based stand up game.

Now five years removed from his UFC debut, it’s clearer now that Nelson, 28, has become the dark horse contender of the 170-pound weight class. In analyzing his UFC career, it’s hard to ignore Nelson’s ability to finish fights. All but one of his Octagon victories have come by way of submission. That’s his bread and butter even though he often rocks his opponents before ending the bout on the mat, and he did just that to dangerous Muay Thai striker Jouban today. Check out the impressive stoppage:

Nelson’s only two losses have come at the hands of bulldozing BJJ wizard Demian Maia and a narrow decision loss to Rick Story. Despite his modest two-fight win streak, Nelson has worked his way up the ranks, and has certainly earned a crack at a top five welterweight. Nelson vs. Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, Robbie Lawler, or even Jorge Masvidal sound like some seriously fun fights, and fights with title shot implications.

Perhaps the most endearing aspect of Nelson (16-2-1) is the fact that his ascent to the top of his weight class was not accomplished through trash talk and mind games. Nelson’s relatively quiet warpath has put every welterweight on notice, and Saturday’s victory over Jouban puts him on the cusp of becoming a contender in a division that could use some fresh blood at the top, especially after welterweight champ Tyron Woodley’s most recent title defense over “Wonderboy”.

No one is clamouring for a third fight between the two, leaving the winner of Maia and Masvidal next in line, but no one else really beyond that at this juncture.

And that’s why Nelson’s submission win over Jouban was so crucial for the division at large.

If submission wins spoke as loudly as McGregor-level trash talk, he would probably already had a title shot by now. But at this point in Nelson’s UFC tenure, it’s become hard to ignore his case for a shot at the belt.

Just don’t expect him to trash talk his way there.