With rumors of Swanson vs. Edgar on deck, or Shogun vs. Manuwa in the works, the Stockholm main event goes to one of Europe's best young fighters.
Much like Kelvin Gastelum, Gunnar Nelson's rise up the WW ranks has been fast and unchecked. Now entering into his 5th UFC bout, the Icelander is set to headline his first ever UFC card, where he will take on Rick Story in Stockholm, Sweden. Visir.is had the initial report on Nelson's fight booking. It's something of an interesting twist considering that larger, more "name heavy" fights were being thrown around as potential headliners, yet it's hard to deny that Nelson hasn't earned his spot as an athlete the UFC should be actively pushing.
Nelson will enter his bout with Story on the heels of a decent, back and forth battle with Zak Cummings at UFC Fight Night: McGregor vs. Brandao. Cummings was able to keep the fight close on the feet for a round, but gave up position late in the second and Nelson was able to secure a powerful RNC, yet another strong submission win on his resume. He's undefeated for his career, at 13-0 with UFC wins over DaMarques Johnson, Jorge Santiago, Omari Akhmedov, and the aforementioned Cummings. Story will be his first crack at the top tier of the division. It will also be his third fight this year, after missing the bulk of last year due to injury woes.
For Story, Nelson continues his hard run of tough outs as he tries to rebuild his status as a top 10-ish fighter. Starting with a split decision loss to Mike Pyle in May of last year, Story has had to face Brian Ebersole, Kelvin Gastelum, and was all set to go up against John Howard before he went down to injury. Story got a bit of break in Leonardo Mafra, but he's right back on the line of tough fights he wont get a lot of prestige for winning. Story has evolved a lot over the past couple years and is much more the savvy vet, than the punishing wrestle-boxer he started as.
That said, and much like Gastelum, Nelson represents a very bad matchup. Nelson is definitely the more diverse and dynamic striker, and if Story sits at range he could easily find himself getting picked apart. However, if he tries to bully Nelson in the clinch or take him down, he risks falling into traps that "Gunni" has shown himself to be an expert at setting. Story's best hope will be to get in the pocket and slug it out with Nelson, make Nelson trade shots with him. If he can execute that kind of gameplan for three rounds, he could get the win. Otherwise, this may be the perfect showcase for the biggest win of Nelson's career.
UFC Fight Night: Nelson vs. Story is set to take place on October 4th in Stockholm, Sweden. Here's a look at the card so far:
Gunnar Nelson vs. Rick Story
Chan Sung Jung vs. Akira Corassani (rumored)
Nico Musoke vs. Amir Sadollah (Sadollah may be moved to Saitama card)
Niklas Bäckström vs. Mike Wilkinson
Ernest Chavez vs. Zubaira Tukhugov
Dennis Siver vs. Robert Whiteford
Jan Blachowicz vs. Ilir Latifi
Marcin Bandel vs. Mairbek Taisumov
Scott Askham vs. Magnus Cedenblad