As was confirmed earlier this morning, Gunnar Nelson will face Neil Magny at UFC Fight Night 130 in Liverpool. Gunnar is eager to get back into action after a long time away from the cage.
Gunnar expected to get a fight booked at UFC Fight Night 127 in London in March. However, when that didn’t play out the way he hoped to, he turned his attention to an event in May.
“It’s a relief to finally have a fight,” said Gunnar in an exclusive interview with MMA Fréttir. “It’s been hard to get a fight booked. On a couple of occasions we really thought we had a fight booked, guys running their mouth and all that but then nothing. So it’s a good feeling to get a fight booked.“
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) March 28, 2018
After a controversial knockout loss in July against Santiago Ponzinibbio, Gunnar opted to take the rest of the year off from competition. Gunnar returned to full training about three months after the loss and feels he has been ready to fight for quite some time now.
A bout against Darren Till was rumoured earlier this year. It all started on Instagram when Gunnar saw Darren Till publicly claim that no one wanted to fight him. Gunnar raised his hand and offered to fight him and both fighters seemed to want the fight but it never got booked. But why ask for Darren Till, especially after coming off a knockout loss?
“There was just a lot of hype surrounding him and he’s an exciting and good fighter. It just made sense to me at that time. He’s very well know right now, especially in England and Europe. It just made a lot of sense to me and would of been a good fight but didn’t materialize.”
Neil Magny, the number 9 ranked welterweight according to UFC’s rankings, has been on Gunnar’s radar for a while. Both fighters have been ranked in the last couple of years and will face off in a top welterweight clash in the co-main event in Liverpool.
“I thought I would fight him sooner, there were talks about us fighting but it didn’t come to fruition. I’ve been excited to face him for some time now. This is great, I’m really glad I got Neil.”
„I’ve probably seen most of his fights since he established himself in the UFC. Very big and long, huge reach, uses his jab well and is just a well rounded fighter. Compared to me, he is probably weakest on the ground I suppose, like against Maia but Maia is an animal. But he is a bit of a slow starter I feel, it does take him some time to really get going. His best win in my opinion was against Hector Lombard were he got nearly finished in the first round but survived, got the engine running and finished him in the third.”
Both fighters share that martial artist mentality of respecting your opponent and always strive to improve as a martial artist. Both are unlikely to talk a lot of trash, if any, and both will look forward to test their skills against an worthy opponent with very different set of skills.
“Like I said, he’s long and rangy. You just need to get inside, get in the clinch and perhaps get a takedown. From there it is hard to use that reach, it would be pretty good to get to the mount where he can’t use his reach quite as well.”
Gunnar is scheduled for a seminar tour around Ireland in the next few days but will head home to Iceland when the tour is over. His training camp will mostly be held at his gym in Iceland, Mjölnir MMA.
“We got guys coming here to train like Tom Breese, who is in the middleweight in the UFC and will fight on the same card. He will bring some guys with him and we’ll get some guys coming from Ireland as well. I think the camp will mostly be here at Mjölnir.“
2018 might be a crucial year for Gunnar’s career. After five years in the UFC, Gunnar has amassed a 7-3 record in the UFC. Gunnar will turn 30 this year but doesn’t necessarily think this is some ‘make or break’ year for him.
“I think I’m in a good place right now, I don’t recover as fast as I used to when I was 20 though. But in your mind, it’s always your moment. You never think to yourself, ‘I’ll just lose a fight here and there, then I will really get going’. You of course aim to win every fight at any time.”
Gunnar and Magny will fight on the 27th og March in Liverpool.