UFC Copenhagen: Burns outworks Nelson, earns unanimous decision
When two high level jiu jitsu practitioners are competing in a mixed martial arts bout, you would tend to believe that it would be an action packed match up with both both fighters showcasing elite level grappling. This wasn’t really the case last Saturday night, as both Gunnar Nelson and Gilbert Burns acknowledged each other’s ability to end the contest at any given time due to their exceptional jiu jitsu skills.
Gilbert Burns stepped in on two weeks notice to replace Thiago Alves, making the contest an even tougher one than “Gunni” would have prepared for. Although only having little time to prepare for his next foe, it would seem to be a contest that would excite Nelson, and he surely provided little hesitation to accept the challenge against a four time jiu jitsu world champion in “Durinho.”
When the two mixed martial artists got locked inside the octagon, the scorecards were 29-28 all in favor of the Brazilian, and he looks to have cemented himself as one to watch out for, as Burns seeks to climb the ranks in the welterweight division. With possibly the biggest win of his mixed martial arts career, having bested Nelson two rounds to one, officially, I actually felt Burns done enough to win all three.
Round two would appear to be the round in Gunni’s favor and I can absolutely see the argument for it being one a piece going into round three, however, I felt, although Nelson seemed to be in control for the majority of the round, Burns ended the round strongly, throwing Nelson onto his head with a very well timed hip toss and catching Nelson on the way back to his feet with a beautiful flying knee that landed right on the chin of the Icelandic fighter. Again, Nelson’s early work in the round can be enough to win him that round and I would not argue with that, but I felt Burns picked up the pace within the final minute of the round and finished the stronger of the two.
It seemed to be a contest that was so evenly matched, and that’s maybe why we didn’t see much grappling exchanges, a level of respect you could say, to the others skill set. However, Burns looked to be the aggressor on the feet, throughout the contest he seemed to be a little more active in his shot selection and that’s ultimately why he edged out a tough competitor in Gunnar Nelson. The tie came to a close and it wasn’t one to be debated in my mind as to who would get the nod, with the third round again being close but “Durinho” finishing strong, ending the round with a huge slam that seemed to land him the victory.
Burns is now currently on a four fight win streak and has extended his record to 17-3 by beating the biggest opponent he has faced to date in Gunnar Nelson. Later on he would seek a challenge from Neil Magny, who is coming off a loss to Santiago Ponzinibbio. This would make the most sense as Burns looks to make a rise through the 170lbs division.
For Nelson, since having his undefeated streak snapped at the hands of Rick Story back in 2014, Nelson has gone 4-4 in his last 8 bouts, the most inconsistent run of his career in terms of results. There is no doubt about the mans ability to be a solid competitor when it comes to stepping in the octagon, but would Nelson be content with just being a competitor and not look to achieve a high profile status as one of the more feared grapplers in the division? I believe Nelson has all the tools to be right in the mix of the 170lbs divsion, it just seems to be about putting the pieces together in those pivotal moments.
Gilbert Burns looks to have a very bright future ahead of him and I would assume he will be a tricky match up for anybody who steps across the octagon to him. For Gunnar Nelson, this is his first time suffering back to back defeats in mixed martial arts and I expect to see a more hungrier version of “Gunni” next time around. Maybe getting to see him return to face his initial opponent Thiago Alves, would be one that makes the most amount of sense right now, as is the same with Gilbert Burns and his call out of Neil Magny, who sits no.15 in the rankings.