Gunnar Nelson just took home a huge ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus at UFC 286 on March 18th, 2023. The event took place in the O2 Arena in London, England and Nelson was fighting against Bryan Barbarena just before the co-main event. It was actually six years to the day since the last time that Nelson was awarded a post-fight bonus, and the last time that he managed to put together multiple wins in a row. Since that fight against Alain Jouban, that actually took place at the same venue, Nelson has gone 1-3 against some of the best competitors in the welterweight division.
He was supposed to be fighting Daniel Rodriguez originally, but he withdrew from the event on short notice due to undisclosed reasons. Barbarena stepped in to replace him and Nelson came out looking very comfortable with the change in opposition. He came out with a wide karate stance and Barbarena seemed surprised by the change, looking a little hesitant to engage with Nelson. Barbarena landed a few leg kicks and seemed like he was starting to settle into the fight when Nelson managed to close the distance and clinch with him. From there, Nelson quickly dominated the fight and it wasn’t long at all before he found the finish.
Nelson took Barbarena down and quickly progressed to full mount, landing elbows at regular intervals in order to soften his opponent up. Once he saw an opportunity, he leapt into action and transitioned to an armbar with incredible speed. It was only a second or two from there until he had Barbarena’s arm fully extended and was forcing him to tap. Gunnar Nelson is one of the best grapplers in MMA so it should come as no surprise that he was able to turn out such an impressive performance on the ground at UFC 286. Now that he’s got some momentum back and is on a winning-streak, he’ll no doubt be looking to work his way back up to the very top of the welterweight division once again.
— UFC (@ufc) March 18, 2023