UFC Fight Night 53 Preview

ufc_fn53The UFC travels overseas once again on another busy day for the promotion as UFC Fight Night 53 marks the first in a double-header for the day. The first of the fights will be in Sweden as the UFC returns to a hotbed of MMA with a host of European stars. None of these stars have been bigger than the young Icelandic fighter that will enter his first main event. Gunnar Nelson has proven to be one of the fastest rising European fighters in the UFC. Nelson represents another area of UFC fighters that has not seen a lot of success in earning titles. Europe is full of great fighters with multiple fighting styles that have influenced the best fighters in the worlds. The Dutch kickboxing, Russian wrestling, and English boxing have all had their time in the spotlight and are still used today by many great fighters to round out their game. Yet there has not been many champions from the region with only two European fighters earning titles in the UFC. The first was Bas Rutten who earned the heavyweight title in 1999 but never defended the title before his retirement. Andrei Arlovski was the next European fighter to earn the heavyweight title in 2005 and defended the title once. Since then, there has yet to be another European champion in the UFC despite a number of promising fighters making a run at multiple titles. The UFC is now seeing a period where Europeans fighters are beginning to make a bigger impact than ever before. A week after Conor McGregor entered the title conversation at UFC 178 another rising star in Nelson gets the chance to make an impact. The 26-year old has already made some noise in the welterweight division with four straight wins since entering the UFC. Those four wins include three submissions and one unanimous decision along with two Performance of the Night Bonuses. The unique part of his great debut in the UFC has been his ability to command the fight on the ground. That has rarely been the calling card for European fighters as striking has long been the strength of those fighters. Nelson brings a new style to Europe as a world-class BJJ practitioner that has a unique karate striking style that keeps opponents at bay trying to figure it out. With that combination Nelson has become one of the most promising fighters to come out of Europe. Now he gets the chance to take the spotlight and move out of his #12 ranking in the welterweight division when he headlines the UFC Fight Night 53 card against Rick Story. As unique as Nelson’s attack is, that his how solid Rick Story’s attack has been. He is not a fighter with any unique stance or a unique way of fighting but what he does is solid. He prefers the stand-up game where he can use his power to knockout opponents but recently developed a much better ground game that was on display in his last fight against Leonardo Mafra when he earned a submission victory via arm triangle choke against the Brazilian. He would not be served by testing that submission game in this fight though as his best shot is to stay standing with Nelson and trying to use his power. It is not an easy task as Nelson will try to keep the fight at a distance before taking the fight to the ground where he will look for a submission. The matchup is an important one for both fighters in their first main event but it might not be an even one. As exciting as Story is he has not developed to the level of Nelson and will take the loss via submission in the second round.

When the UFC travels to Europe it is a unique opportunity for fans to see a number of fighters that do not have the same schedules as other fighters. European fighters have a habit of staying on their side of the ocean to get their fights in at the UFC. Many European fighters, like Nelson, have remained in Europe for the majority of their careers. The biggest reason being that, an adjustment to that many timezones can be tough on a fighter that has never experienced it before. It has been a point of debate for many as Americans and Canadians seem to go anywhere to fight travelling to Europe or Asia when they are called upon. Still the European fighters remain in Europe. That means that as usual a fight in Europe provides a glimpse into the talent that is in the area. One fighter that has taken a slightly different approach than many of his fellow European fighters will fight at home for only the second time in the UFC. Akira Corassani is a Swedish born fighter that has had many more fights in North America than other fighters with the same experience. His last two fights were in North America and they had mixed results. Winning the first fight via disqualification and then losing the second fight via TKO Corassani did not do great across the pond. Now he returns to Sweden where he has a 6-2 record through his MMA career and where he won his second UFC fight against Robbie Peralta. This time he will take on Max Holloway where both fighters are trying to make some noise in a division with plenty of rising stars. It will be a battle of two fairly similar fighters with the well-rounded Corassani taking on the striker with some ground game in Holloway. As the European gets to stay home the American will travel and try to get a win a long way from home with the crowd against him at UFC Fight Night 53.


Fight Card

Main Card:
Gunnar “Gunny” Nelson vs. Rick “The Horror” Story (UFC Fight Pass)

Main Card:
Max “Blessed” Holloway vs. Akira Corassani (UFC Fight Pass)

Ilir “The Sledgehammer” Latifi vs. “Książę Cieszyński” Jan Błachowicz (UFC Fight Pass)

Niklas Bäckström vs. Mike “The Warrior” Wilkinson (UFC Fight Pass)

Scott Askham vs. Magnus “Jycken” Cedenblad (UFC Fight Pass)

Nico “Nico” Musoke vs. Alexander “Bad Boy” Yakovlev (UFC Fight Pass)

Dennis Siver vs. Charles Rosa (UFC Fight Pass)

Cathal “The Punisher” Pendred vs. Gasan “Cobra” Umalatov (UFC Fight Pass)

Krzysztof Jotko vs. Tor “The Hammer” Troeng (UFC Fight Pass)

Mairbek “Beckan” Taisumov vs. Marcin “Bomba” Bandel (UFC Fight Pass)

Ernest “The Mad Titan” Chavez vs. Zubaira “Warrior” Tukhugov (UFC Fight Pass)

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