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Alex Oliveira says he tapped to Gunnar Nelson’s elbow, not rear-naked choke: ‘That elbow changed everything’

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Alex Oliveira needed 38 stitches after his loss to Gunnar Nelson.
Photo via Alex Oliveira's Instagram

Alex Oliveira returned to his hometown of Tres Rios after a tough loss to Gunnar Nelson at UFC 231, which took place Saturday in Toronto, Canada, and will be sidelined from training for some time.

Speaking with MMA Fighting on Tuesday, the Brazilian “Cowboy” gave an update on the stitch count. Oliveira’s coach said on Sunday that the welterweight needed 29 stitches on his forehead after a vicious elbow cut his face. In fact, Oliveira says he needed way more than that.

”38 stitches, man. They did 38 stitches,” Oliveira told MMA Fighting. “But it’s part of the game, right, man? Like you said, that elbow completely changed the course of the fight.”

The official result stands as “Gunni” winning by submission due to a rear-naked choke, but Oliveira says he did not tap because of the choke.

”The rear-naked choke was in, but I was alive, I was fine. The problem was all that blood,” Oliveira said. “When I put my hand on my forehead I felt everything was f***ing open, I couldn’t see anything. Even if I made out of that round, the referee wouldn’t let me continue.”

It will take some time for Oliveira’s forehead to heal, but he’s anxious to get back in action already. According to the ATS fighter, the doctor won’t allow him to train for the next six weeks, so he hopes to get a fight booked for March.

”This loss was a win for me. We also learn when we lose, right?” Oliveira said. “I keep my head held high. Let’s prepare for the next one. I can’t train now, but I can’t stand still. I need to do something. Losses are part of the game, we understand that. That elbow changed everything. It was his day, not mine, and I accept it. Let’s work for the next one.”

The defeat in Canada snapped Oliveira's two-fight winning streak, while Nelson returned to the winning column a year after a loss to Santiago Ponzinibbio.