We continue our odds, pick, and prediction series as the Main Card of UFC 286 keeps rolling on. This next fight comes between two interesting fighters ready to bang and advance up the rankings in the Welterweight (170 lb) Division. Iceland’s own Gunnar Nelson will be taking on the always exciting Bryan “Bam Bam” Barberena. Check out our UFC odds series for our Nelson-Barberena prediction and pick.
Gunnar Nelson is 18-5-1 in his MMA career and has gone 9-3 in the UFC. His debut came in 2012 with Nelson cementing himself as a dangerous submission artist in the welterweight division. He lost back-to-back decisions at the hands of Leon Edwards and Gilbert Burns and followed by taking over two years off from fighting in the UFC. He returned last year to impressively beat Takashi Sato and will look to continue his winning on his new path. Nelson stands 5’11” with a 72-inch reach.
Bryan Barberena is 18-9 in his fighting career and has a record of 9-7 in the UFC. He’s traded wins and losses during his career but has seen a run of success as of late when he notched three straight wins over Darian Weeks, Matt Brown, and Robby Lawler. With 5 FOTN performances, Barberena will look to provide excitement once again as he steps in on short notice to save this fight. He stands 6’0″ with a 72.5-inch reach.
Here are the UFC Odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
UFC 286 Odds: Gunnar Nelson-Bryan Barberena Odds
Gunnar Nelson: -430
Bryan Barberena: +300
Over (2.5) rounds: +112
Under (2.5) rounds: -142
How to Watch Gunnar Nelson vs. Bryan Barberena
TV: UFC PPV
Stream: ESPN+ UFC PPV
Time: 5:00 p.m. ET/ 2:00 p.m. PT (Main Card)
*Watch sports LIVE with fuboTV (click for a free trial)*
Why Gunnar Nelson Will Win
Some may have questioned the lengthy absence for Nelson prior to his last fight, but his performance was clear indication that he has returned to his previous form and even looked slightly better. Nelson showed off his explosive striking against Sato and outclassed him on the feet with his patient striking and mix of leg kicks. He has crisp striking and bounces around the octagon in a Karate stance. Nelson is very precise with his shots landing with a 60% significant strike accuracy rate. Once he closes the distance, Nelson looks to grab his opponent and force trips and body locks into takedowns.
The biggest advantage Nelson will have is his submission game in this one as he has 13 wins by the method. If he’s able to take Barberena’s back just once, Nelson can threaten with his dangerous rear-naked choke once he locks up a body triangle. He’s also very active with his fists when fighting on the ground. He’ll want to control Barberena as much as possible and not engage with him in a fire fight. If Nelson can continue to fight smart, he should be able to outclass his opponent once again.
Why Bryan Barberena Will Win
Bryan Barberena is no stranger to a scrap and will be welcoming on with open arms as he takes on Gunnar Nelson. He’ll be stepping in on short notice after Nelson’s original opponent pulled out, so he won’t have the luxury of preparing for a full camp here. Nevertheless, Barberena only has one speed and he pushes a frantic pace the entire fight. He never stops letting his hands fly, landing 5.9 significant strikes per minute. Against a patient fighter like Nelso, Barberena could see a ton of success if he’s able to keep his output his and get in his face with the striking.
Barberena will have a disadvantage on the ground in this one and should be looking to make this fight as messy as possible. Nelson will succeed most if he’s able to stay out of range and pick his shots carefully. Barberena should look to close the distance and not allow Nelson to open up his striking. If he’s able to land a few damaging shots, Barberena will have the big advantage as the aggressor in those situations, given how high his output is.
Final Gunnar Nelson-Bryan Barberena Prediction & Pick
This is yet another fight with a ton of potential to be an exciting back-and-forth affair. Nelson is a very technical striker who likes to set up his shots, while Barberena moves forward with pace and pressure while letting his hands go. Barberena could get the upset here if he is able to outstrike Nelson and back him up into the cage. Still, the wrestling and jiu-jitsu of Nelson will be too much. The odds should be much closer as Barberena poses a ton of matchup problems for Nelson. The line is juiced, so let’s go with the favorite to finish with his favorite submission.
Final Gunnar Nelson-Bryan Barberena Prediction & Pick: Gunnar Nelson (-430); by Submission (+105)