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Alex Oliveira on Gunnar Nelson: ‘I will put him to sleep’ at UFC 231

Alex Oliveira is looking for the knockout against Gunnar Nelson in Toronto, Canada.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Alex Oliveira is planning on ruining Gunnar Nelson’s return to the Octagon on Saturday night in Canada.

The Brazilian “Cowboy” will face “Gunni” in the main card of UFC 231, scheduled for Saturday at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena, and hasn’t changed much in his training compared to his preparation for a recent 39-second win over Carlo Pedersoli in September.

Confident after a “medieval” camp in his hometown of Tres Rios, and hoping to “finish the year with a brawl” in Canada, Oliveira believes that a win over someone like Nelson will take his career to another level in the UFC.

With $200,000 worth of post-fight bonuses in his last four UFC bouts, which includes stoppage victories over Ryan LaFlare, Carlos Condit and Pedersoli, “Cowboy” feels ready for Nelson’s dangerous submission skills.

”I’m already used to that because most of the fighters I fight like to go to the ground, so I focused on his mistakes,” Oliveira told MMA Fighting. “Whenever he makes a mistake, I’ll knock him out, no doubt about it. He won’t have time to use his ground game, I will knock him out.”

“Gunni” hasn’t fought since July 2017, when he suffered a quick loss to Santiago Ponzinibbio in Scotland. The Iceland native was then booked to return against Neil Magny in May, but was forced out of the bout due to a knee injury.

The combination of a long layoff due to a knee injury, and the fact that he’s coming off the first stoppage loss of his career will play a big factor in his mind in Toronto, Oliveira says.

”Man, if he gets in my way and tries to do anything, I’ll tell you this: I’ll beat him so bad he will stay out for another year… I’m kidding,” said Oliveira, laughing. “He’s a dangerous guy, he likes to counter. He hasn’t fought in a while, so he’s probably hungry, but my hand will connect and he will go out.”

”I will hit him, no doubt about it,” he continued. “When I put my hands on him, he will lay down on the ground. It’s going to be a very technical fight, I can’t make mistakes, but I’m focused on his mistakes. If he makes a mistake, I will put him to sleep.”

Stopping Nelson at UFC 231 will change his career, Oliveira says, “and then I’ll ask for another fight in the beginning of the next year. One more fight, and then I want the belt. If they give me the shot, I’m here. Just give me the opportunity. I will win the belt, no question about it. And it’s getting close.”

Nelson might not be the type of opponent in which a win guarantees you a No. 1 contender fight in the welterweight division today, but “Cowboy” thinks that his opponent’s relationship with UFC superstar Conor McGregor might help him move up the rankings faster than others.

”I will beat this guy and tell Conor, ‘if you want to get yourself in trouble, I’ll beat you up as well,’” Oliveira laughed. “I think (McGregor) would run away (from me) because I’m trouble, and he wouldn’t handle that.”

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