Gunnar Nelson is one of the most unique fighters in the UFC today. The combination of his unusual karate stance with his slick grappling ability makes him a difficult matchup for almost anyone in the division. After being dominated by Demian Maia at UFC 194, Nelson has gone on to defeat two tricky opponents. Nelson submitted Albert ‘Einstein’ Tumenov in the second round and then he went on to do the exact same against Alan Jouban in March 2017. A win here definitely puts him in range of a fight with top welterweight competition and a chance to move up the rankings.
Santiago Ponzinibbio isn’t as well-known to the fan of mixed martial arts as the name of Gunnar Nelson, but he has quietly racked together four consecutive victories in the UFC after losing to Lorenz Larkin in 2015. The level of competition is admittedly not all that high when compared to Gunnar Nelson. Most recently, Ponzinibbio recovered from a slow start to take home a unanimous decision victory against Nordine Taleb at UFC Fight Night 105 in February.
On paper, Santiago Ponzinibbio’s style could cause huge problems for Gunnar Nelson. Ponzinibbio has explosive and powerful hands and likes to damage an opponent inside their range. Gunnar Nelson is nowhere near as effective once an opponent has entered his range and smothered him. Ponzonibbio is at his best in this scenario.
It leaves us to question whether Ponzinibbio can get inside the range of Nelson, though. Gunnar employs a number of advanced strategies to ensure that his opponent’s back is always facing the cage before removing all of their space to move and securing a takedown. Nelson controls the centre of the octagon relatively easily in his fights and this is key to victory against Ponzinibbio.
Nelson will come out in his karate stance and the distance will be difficult for Ponzinibbio. If he moves in, Nelson will either clip him or clinch. From the clinch, he can throw Ponzinibbio down to the mat and work his submissions. If Ponzinibbio is patient and doesn’t move in, Nelson will slowly close the distance between Ponzinibbio and the cage before shooting for a takedown.
Nelson’s submission game is always the same. He applies heavy top pressure to his opponent’s shoulders and allows some room at the hips. This allows his opponent to move freely from the waist down and at times, the opponent chooses to give up their back as it is seemingly the only escape. From the back, Nelson has a super tight rear-naked choke. Game over.
Prediction and Betting Strategy
Nelson should be able to get this one to the mat quite easily. From there, I don’t think that Ponzinibbio is all that capable of stopping the onslaught of submission attempts from Nelson. Gunnar is a significant favourite in this contest, though, so I think the best approach is taking a quick finish with some insurance for the slim chance that Ponzinibbio catches Nelson with his hands down.
The best bet here is taking the under 1.5 total rounds selection.
Gunnar Nelson vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio Total Rounds – Under 1.5
Sunday 16th July – 5:30 pm (ET) / 9:30pm GMT
Odds: 7/42.75+1751.751.75-0.57 – Paddy Power
Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.
SBO.net Bookie Selector
Our Bookie selector is designed to find the perfect place for you to bet. Simply answer a few quick questions and we’ll choose the best online bookmaker for you.