Conor McGregor loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov tough for Gunnar Nelson, who won't miss rematch
TORONTO – UFC welterweight Gunnar Nelson was firing on all cylinders in advance of a meeting against Neil Magny at UFC Fight Night 130. Then the injury bug bit.
Not only was Nelson (16-3-1 MMA, 7-3 UFC) forced to rehabilitate his knee, but he couldn’t help his longtime training partner Conor McGregor (21-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC) for a pivotal fight against lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov (27-0 MMA, 11-0 UFC) at UFC 229.
“I could have maybe done some right at the end, but he had everything planned out,” said Nelson, who on Saturday meets Alex Oliveira (19-5-1 MMA, 9-3 UFC) at UFC 231, which takes place at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario. The event’s main card airs live on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.
The perpetually understated fighter said it was “a little difficult” to watch McGregor get submitted by Nurmagomedov. But the next time the lightweight stars meet, Nelson will be there.
“I think for the next one, and I believe there will be another one at some point, I’ll be there for his camp for sure,” Nelson said.
Understandably, Nelson didn’t want to give away the game plan he would push for McGregor’s rematch. But he said fighters who face Nurmagomedov frequently put themselves at a disadvantage by inviting grappling exchanges with the champ.
“You don’t want to sit in his world, and guys tend to do that a little bit,” Nelson said. “We saw Al Iaquinta. He did pretty well. He was able to tweak his strategy a little bit, but guys seem to get caught in his world, and that’s his world.”
Nelson’s world no longer is simply the canvas. Although he rode to UFC stardom on his jiu-jitsu skills, he called his current approach a “soup” of techniques that allow him to feel comfortable everywhere.
And now that he’s actually healthy, he can put all of them to use. Next time he’s in camp with McGregor, he’ll help the Irish star use his to get revenge.
For more from Nelson, check out the video above.