The Icelandic welterweight is targeting a title shot and doesn't sound too troubled by the division's top two
Gunnar Nelson admits he "wasn't that impressed" by Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson's UFC 209 welterweight title fight earlier this month.
The Icelandic fighter, ranked #9 in the UFC's 170lbs division, looks to take strides toward a title shot with victory over Alan Jouban this weekend in London and says he sees nothing in the current champion that he could not challenge.
"Well, the fight was a bit boring, wasn’t it?" he told Newstalk.com. "It was kind of like the boring bits of the first one. But I understand there was a lot of respect there. They were well aware of each other’s shots. I was expecting Thompson to be a bit more aggressive with some of the kicks and mixing it up a bit.
"I wasn’t that impressed to be honest. I believe I can go in with these guys and beat them. They’re both tough fighters. But I believe I have something there that could deal with them both.
"I don’t really know how these rankings work. [Jouban] is ranked below me so a win over him wouldn’t really shoot me that far up."
Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley (right) earned a decision victory against Stephen Thompson earlier this month in their highly anticipated championship rematch. Image: John Locher/AP/Press Association Images
Nelson travels to the English capital this weekend, having already recorded two victories in the city - beating Jorge Santiago and Omari Akhmedov in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
"I love fighting here. It’s the third time in London, second time fighting in this arena. I always enjoy fighting in the UK and Dublin, it’s a bit like my hometown, my turf.
"This is where it all started. This is where I have had most of my fights and have most of my fans. I do like it here.
"The reason I wouldn’t have as many fans this time as normal is because I was only announced on the card after it was almost sold out. I know going to London is an easier place and I think we’ll still see a good few others. More would have come I think if they could have gotten their hands on the tickets."
Having trained in Dublin's Straight Blast Gym in preparation for the bout, Nelson says he has full recovered from an ankle injury that ruled him out of a headline show in Belfast last October.
"I’m 100 per cent. I did the right thing by taking a good break to get my ankle healed. Those kind of injuries needed a break. I needed to keep the weight and the heat off it. So I did that and got slowly back in just like it never happened.
"It was a freak accident to be honest. You can’t really change your camp because something like this. It happened at the UFC media day and it was one of those weird things. There’s nothing I had to change. I just focused again and had a proper camp. That was that.
"I’ve trained with some new people over in Dublin, some new southpaws. Other, than that, preparation has been the same."
His opponent is further down the rankings - placed #28 - but has picked up wins in his last three fights, including a unanimous decision victory over the then-unbeaten Mike Perry. Nelson insists he isn't taking the fight lightly.
"He definitely favours striking more than grappling in general. But he’s pretty well rounded. He’ll probably try to keep the fight standing so we’ll have to see how it goes early on.
"I’m willing to go to the ground. I’ve heard this from every fighter I’ve ever fought. They always say they’re not afraid to go to the ground and they’re not afraid to go anywhere. He probably will prefer to stay up to be honest.
"But we’ll see. Maybe he’s tricky on the ground. I believe in my abilities whether it’s on the ground or on the feet. I can definitely surprise him on the feet."
And despite talk of moving up the welterweight rankings, Nelson says he is not looking past the California native.
"We’ll see what happens after this. Right now, I’m focusing on Saturday and after that, I’ll be hoping to get a top rank fighter to help me keep climbing.
"I’d be hoping for any of the top 10 after this, preferably in the top five."
Watch Gunnar in action at UFC Fight Night: Manuwa vs. Anderson live in the UK on BT Sport from 9pm GMT on Saturday, March 18, or catch the UFC FIGHT PASS Prelims from 5:30pm GMT