Gunnar Nelson excited to use “new tools” on October 4 against Rick Story

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Unbeaten Gunnar Nelson has every right to be excited ahead of his first UFC headline bout against welterweight stalwart Rick “The Horror” Story on October 4. ‘Gunni’ commented on how he is looking forward to walking out in front of the Scandinavian fans where he is hoping to be greeted as if it were his own hometown.

“It feels amazing,” said Nelson. “I’m very happy and honoured to be headlining a show for UFC in Sweden, they’re obviously neighbours of Iceland. MMA has grown so much there over the years and we’ve been watching from Iceland.

“We’ve been looking up to them, they’ve done a lot of the things that we want to do as far as legalising the sport is concerned. To be over there headlining a show is a dream.

“I think I’ve got a strong following over there. I know their main fighter, Alexander Gustafsson, has a good following in Iceland so hopefully it will be like a hometown crowd for me. Neighbouring countries always stick together anyway.”

As for Rick Story, the prodigious Icelandic jiu jitsu black belt commended the toughness of his October opponent:

“I don’t think a lot about my opponents until I get into the Octagon. Until then I just do my thing and I’ll be doing my thing in the Octagon too. I have seen Rick fight, even before I was with UFC I had watched him. He’s a tough guy, he’s a strong wrestler and he’s fought many of the top guys in the division. He’s a big test for anyone.”

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One of the first things everybody notices about the European welterweight is the composure that he commands in combat. Asked if it’s something that he consciously strives for in the Octagon, Nelson explained that what people see when he is fighting is simply an extension of his personality.

He said: “It’s the way I am. I found a way to make it work for me. Some guys get a bit more excited like Conor McGregor. That’s his character, he’s always been like that and I’m the way I am. I guess the way I fight is reflected in my character. Staying composed helps me fight better. It allows be to see openings that I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. It works for me.”

Damien Maia and Nelson were constantly compared due to their high level of Brazilian jiu jitsu expertise when the John Kavanagh product was first signed to UFC. Given that Maia went through Story with relative ease, finishing in round one with what ‘Gunni’ has previously called his “money move” – the rear naked choke – Nelson commented on what he took from Maia vs Story.

“I watched that fight a while ago. Rick isn’t as great on the ground as he is on the feet, he may lack a bit of jiu jitsu but I’m sure he has worked on that since then. “We’re all constantly evolving, but that doesn’t change the fact that I think I’m going to beat him.

“It could be in the ground, it could be on the feet. It doesn’t really matter to me. We’ll see how the victory comes when we get there,” he said.

Nelson is knocking on the door of being included in the UFC’s 170 lbs title conversation and he believes if he is successful on October 4 he will still be one fight away from a shot at the championship.

“I think after this fight we’ll get a top contender and then we’ll get a title shot after that. That’s how I’m thinking,” revealed Nelson.

Now commanding a massive fan base across Europe, Nelson spoke of when he thinks he will be brought stateside by Dana White and Co:

“I know I’ll be fighting in the US very soon. I don’t mind where I fight, I want to fight everywhere really. It something that I haven’t done yet, I’ve competed in jiu jitsu tournaments over there but I’ll be fighting over there soon, it’s definitely going to happen in the near future.”

Finally Nelson explained how he is exited to use “new tools” when he faces off with Story in Stockholm.

“I’m constantly evolving, there are always new things. I’m always excited to fight because I always have a couple of new tools. You add them to new things you already had and you get the situation I’m in now, some things are really clicking in my game now,” he said

@PetesyCarroll

Peter Carroll is Severe MMA's lead feature writer. He has been featured in many top publications and some rubbish ones too. He also writes for the Irish Daily Mirror and Vice's Fightland.