Gunnar Nelson suffered the toughest loss of his career last December when Demian Maia decisively beat him on points. Gunnar has never been defeated like that in his career. This was a whole new experience for him.
The fight wasn’t even close as the judges’ scorecards revealed. 30-26, 30-25 and 30-25 tells the story of the fight. Demian Maia was simply a better fighter and it showed on the 12th of December.
“It does hurt a bit to think about the fight and the whole experience,” Gunnar Nelson told MMA Fréttir. “You are never truly over a fight like that until you get back in there and fight again. I believe I learned a lot from this fight and I just look forward to getting back in there. To be honest, that is what I think about the most, just the future.”
This was by far the worst fight of Gunnar’s career. He has never been controlled like that on the ground and has never lost so convincingly in his career in sports.
“I felt horrible immediately after the fight. I thought I performed terribly and was simply miserable after the fight. It just wasn’t my night and I felt it as soon as the fight began. I just couldn’t get myself going. A win over Maia would have put me close to the top but that’s the way it is. This is what it´s like to be an athlete. There is nothing else to do except get back on your feet and keep going.”
Demian Maia had a fantastic performance that night but the same cannot be said about Gunnar. Gunnar didn’t seem to be himself to a lot of his fans. Something was very off for Gunnar that night.
“Sometimes I have difficult periods in training were I just seem to be off, but it has diminished in the past few years. This camp was my best camp ever but there still were some off-days for me where I just didn’t perform very well. I’m still working my way through this and this happens less now. That night I just didn’t have a good day but that’s just a part of competing on this level. You are always learning about yourself and learning about off-days like these. I just have to make sure this won’t happen again in a fight and I look forward to dealing with this problem and it’s an exciting challenge.”
Gunnar isn’t quite sure what it is that causes these off-days for him. It’s definitely different for each person and he has a hard time describing it. “It’s like this tendency for the body which is hard to break out of. That’s how I experience it. Everything becomes so difficult. You feel weak, inferior, and it’s hard to breathe properly. It’s like your body is asleep. Your mind is there but this habit or tendency is so strong that it’s hard to break out of in such a short time.”
“I have experienced this habit or off-day before in a fight in the UFC where I just did not feel well but still managed to win. I have managed to work through this during a fight. This doesn’t happen as often now, it’s becoming less and less of a thing for me and I have felt good during training. This fight helped me immensely to figure this habit out.”
“I felt it during the warm-up and hoped I would be able to just shake it off. I wasn’t too worried about it since I have managed to work through this state during a fight before. But that day I just wasn’t good enough.”
This habit is a part of his journey in this sport. It’s just one of the things Gunnar needs to work on. “In the end, everybody is trying to improve themselves. This is just what I need to work on and learn from it. That’s just a part of becoming who you are and who you want to be. All about learning and to keep going. I just look at this as a task at hand. Something I have to deal with.”
Gunnar makes it clear he is not making any excuses. He understands what his role was in his failure. He fought against a tough opponent who was simply the better man.
UFC 194 was one of the biggest cards of the year with millions watching. Some fighters would perhaps feel pressure or stress knowing so many viewers were watching. Gunnar has never experienced any pressure or nerves fighting in the UFC and UFC 194 was no exception.
“It doesn’t matter to me if I’m walking to the Octagon in the UFC or somewhere else. I’m always just fighting some guy and it’s always the same situation in my mind. The only difference is bigger audience and there is more money involved but that doesn’t matter to me when I’m fighting. I’m always going to do the same thing and keep improving myself and that’s what this is all about. Everyone goes through certain phases and obstacles, which can be difficult, but you have to keep learning. It can take awhile but if you keep going, you’ll figure it out and get over any obstacles.”
Gunnar’s first loss came at the hands of Rick Story. That fight was completely different from the Maia fight for Gunnar. “Maia just owned this fight. I had some moments here and there but I performed very poorly that night. Although I could see openings, I felt like I wasn’t there to act on them. Couldn’t do what I wanted to do. That was completely different than the Story fight. The Story fight was a much closer and much different fight.”
“Losses always teach you something, but if there is one thing I can learn from the Maia fight is that I can survive for damn long. Although I was in bad spots again and again against a guy who should be able to finish the fight from most positions, I still managed to survive. That fight was all about survival and you need to learn that as well.”
See also: Gunnar hopes to fight in Holland in May
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