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Gunnar Nelson on UFC Copenhagen opponent Thiago Alves: ‘He kind of disappeared after USADA’

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Gunnar Nelson will try to make weigh at the UFC Fight Night 53 weigh-ins Friday.
Gunnar Nelson will try to make weigh at the UFC Fight Night 53 weigh-ins Friday.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Gunnar Nelson is excited to pit his skills against promotional veteran Thiago Alves at UFC Copenhagen, but he admits that he has noticed some changes in the Brazilian since the United States Anti-Doping Agency have begun policing banned substances in the UFC.

While underlining his enthusiasm with regard to fighting someone as well known in the sport as Alves, the Icelandic submission specialist noted some suspicions he’s had about the former title contender.

“He’s somebody who’s well known, so it’s a good fight,” Nelson told MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast.

“I’m excited to fight Thiago, he’s a little ‘Pitbull’. He’s been around for a long time, I don’t know if he’s ranked or if he’s not ranked. He kind of disappeared after USADA, I think.”

Asked to clarify if he had suspicions of Alves’ use of banned substances in the past, Nelson replied: “Yes, yes I do.”

Alves declined to comment to MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz for this story.

Nelson went on to underline how happy he is with USADA’s involvement in MMA.

“USADA has done a great job with the UFC,” he said. “I’m really happy how things have gone. You see a big difference in a lot of fighters after they came in and obviously there are still guys doing something and they’re getting popped here and there, and some are probably getting away with it. At least it’s making them scared now. They can’t take as much or they can’t take the same things now, or whatever they’re doing. Whatever they’re doing, it’s having an effect and I love that.”

Despite he views on PEDs, Nelson claimed that suspecting someone of previous PED use does not give him any added motivation going into fights.

“It’s not really something I think about when it comes time to fight. It is what it is, I’ll just go out there and feel the energy that comes, but it’s definitely a factor; it’s a huge factor. I don’t like the guys that are doing it, but they do and they do it at the very top level too,” said Nelson.

T.J. Dillashaw got caught for some stuff, EPO I think it was. Guys are getting popped and of course that’s a factor, but I don’t really think about it too much. I have my views on it, but there’s nothing I can do about it really. If a guy that I’m fighting is going to take some stuff, maybe he gets away with it or maybe not, but all I think about is what I’m going to do. There’s no point really. USADA is going to take care of that and I don’t really pay any attention to it.”

“Gunni” went on to say that he would hang up his gloves if he needed to use a prohibited substance to train or perform.

“I just don’t understand these guys. They probably think everyone is doing it, but not everybody is doing it. If you’re on gear and you’re fighting someone that’s not and you win, does it feel the same? I can’t imagine so. If I needed steroids to do what I’m doing, I’m not going to compete anymore; I’m going to stop competing,” he explained.

“If I needed steroids to keep training, I just couldn’t see myself ever doing that. I’m a little scared of it as well in terms of my health. I don’t know what it does. You hear all those stories about your organs and whatever, it can f*ck you up. When I’m old I don’t want to have burned up my life energy by taking steroids. It’s not me; I’ll just stay away from them.”

Check out the latest episode of Eurobash. The Gunnar Nelson interview begins at 36:00.