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Gunnar Nelson surprised by Leon Edwards booking, pursued Darren Till for UFC London

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

As fans clamored for Darren Till’s London opponent to be announced, Gunnar Nelson was one of the top names floated for the task before the Liverpudlian was booked for main event duties alongside Jorge Masvidal.

It was the second time in less than a year that an outcry for the welterweight matchup was noted, the first of which came when Till was still without a dance partner for his Liverpool homecoming back in May.

Nelson was later booked to compete against Paradigm stablemate, Leon Edwards, but he admitted that he did not know that a fight with “Rocky” was in the cards until later in the matching process.

“We were looking for some other names, Masvidal or Till would have been great,” Nelson told Eurobash. “I think there were some other names on the table, I can’t remember exactly. I wasn’t really eyeing Leon, I knew he was going to be on the card, but I thought he had already been matched up.

“There was some discussion, I don’t know about who, but that’s what we heard. I guess that didn’t come true. For a while they were saying that I wouldn’t be on the London card. They told me that they would bring me to do the States for my next one. I was a little bit bummed because I wanted to be on the London card, but then this came up and we took it.”

“I have a lot of respect for Leon,” he added. “He’s a teammate of a friend of mine, Tom Breese, I’ve trained with him a little bit. I’ve made it a bit awkward for him, but it’s all good, it’s a sport so it will be a good, fair fight.”

Nelson likes the sound of the winners of the two top welterweight bouts at UFC London— Nelson vs. Edwards and Till vs. Masvidal — facing off after the event. However, having looked for dates with both Till and Masvidal in the past, he isn’t confident a fight like that could be made.

“I hope so, but you never know. The matchups have been kind of weird lately. It’s a lot about the big money fights, it’s not really about who is next in line, but we’ll see, I guess.”

He continued: “It could be a little bit more sport orientated, I think, when it comes to matchmaking and all of that, but that’s how the UFC is these days or maybe for a good while, but that’s the sport. I would love to see a Grand Prix, but I don’t think the UFC will be doing that any time soon.”

Nelson revealed that his team had attempted to make the Till fight for London, but concluded that “The Gorilla” does not want to compete with him.

“We definitely were [trying to get the Till fight], but I wasn’t really thinking it was going to happen. I don’t think he wants that fight, he wants higher ranked opponents and this and that, but we’ll fight eventually, so it’s no bother.”

Despite not clinching his first-choice bout for the March event, Nelson insisted that he is a happy to face fellow ranked welterweight Edwards at The 02.

“I’ve got a good opponent, I’m happy with my opponent, to be honest. He’s a great fighter and I’ll look forward to going into the Octagon against Leon. That’s what I’m focusing on now - my training and my next fight.”

Check out the latest episode of Eurobash. The Gunnar Nelson interview begins at 7:00.

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