Saturday, February 16, 2013
Wow! I Actually Get To Talk UFC
So why am I talking about it now? Gunnar "Gunni" Nelson from Iceland -- The Great Viking Hope. Fighting tonight in London, his second bout in the UFC. He is sponsored by CCP Games, as such he sports the DUST 514 logo on his athletic gear and team banner. The fight is now over. Gunnar continued his unbeaten streak with a victory over Brazilian, Jorge Santiago.
It was an appropriate test for Gunnar. He pulled out a unanimous decision. I scored the fight 10-10, 10-9, 10-9 -- 30-28 Nelson. I wouldn't call it an impressive win, Santiago is nowhere near the echelon of the welterweight division, and his skills in the stand-up and on the ground are average at best. Gunnar didn't dominate his opponent by any stretch of the imagination. The fight did demonstrate that Gunnar has some skills in the stand-up, but skills he still needs to work on. He needs to move more, he needs to keep his hands up (oh my god, you need to keep your hands up!), though he did demonstrate a competent jab and did land a couple uppercuts in the final frame. The ground game, Brazilian Ju-jitsu in particular, is Nelson's strength, and it's where he wins most of his fights, either via submission or ground-and-pound. The fight did not spend as much time on the ground as it probably should have; Nelson needs to work on his takedowns, Santiago should have been easier to get on to his back more frequently.
What's next for Gunnar? He's nowhere near ready for anybody in the top ten of the division. He would get his clock cleaned by a Fitch or a Hendricks or even a Koschek. His pace up the ladder should be slow and steady. He shouldn't want to rush into tougher opponents, and the UFC shouldn't want to rush him there either. He's a young guy, and he has time to train and work on his skills further. A loss here and there will only help him focus on areas of his game that need improvement.
I'd like to see Gunnar matched against someone strong in one particular area of the sport. Siyar Bahadurzada, for instance, should challenge Gunnar's stand-up, and if Gunni insists on carrying his hands below his chest, he's going find himself unconscious on the mat. Or perhaps Brian Ebersole, for his wrestling and ground game. Or just someone larger in general. Gunnar Nelson is a small welterweight. He has the height, but he carries very little extra weight into a fight.
Was CCP Games a winner tonight? They did get the DUST 514 logo broadcast around the world. Was it effective marketing? The team banner was only half visible during the fighter announcements, due to camera angle. All I saw was "UST 514" and "t514.com." The logo on the shorts was visible enough in highdef. And during the winner announcement, the logo was crystal clear on Gunnar's t-shirt. It'll be for CCP to determine if they got their money's worth (it's been rumoured that the UFC does not accept PLEX for advertising), but it was cool to see EVE advertised during a sports broadcast seen across the globe. Will CCP keep up with the Gunnar Nelson sponsorship? I guess we'll have to wait to see what's happening with his next fight. Given Gunnar's performance tonight, I suspect he'll remain a main card draw (at least on the free Fox/Fuel/FX broadcasts.)