It’s a bit like March Madness. What draws us all in year after year to watch college basketball players is the all out effort. Each player tries as hard as they can every second of each game because they think it may be the last chance they get to prove to the NBA that they belong in the top basketball league in the world. Jouban and Nelson are in this exact same situation.
Both fighters will be putting everything they’ve got into each punch and move they make knowing that for them – this too will be the last chance they’ll get in 2017 to prove to the UFC that they belong fighting with the best fighters in the world – at the top of an insanely stacked welterweight division that boasts the likes of Woodley, Lawler Condit, Maia and Thompson just to name a few.
Both fighters have been working incessantly to get to the top of the UFC welterweight division. We know that. But, what we also have here is two top ranked fighters near each other in ranking and ability facing off in an MMA purists dream matchup. The winner will not only establish himself as a new undeniable top contender in the UFC welterweight division, but fight fans will get to see the answer to the question which we all struggle to grasp in each top-level fight we watch.
Does world-class grappling or world-class striking have the advantage in top-level MMA? Gunnar Nelson is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu taught by the legend Renzo Gracie and Alan Jouban is an expert at Muay Thai that has been astonishing the fight world with his recent wins.
Alan Jouban has been soaring upward with two straight wins one of which won the Fight of the Night and the other a surprise win over undefeated rising star Mike Perry.
His grit versus Belal Muhammad won him Fight of the Night at UFC Fight Night 90 and the poise he showed thoroughly dominating undefeated Rich Perry was eerily similar to several of the top contenders in the Welterweight division. He seems to position his body and pinpoint his striking at the fluid level that only the very best fighters can execute. He also continues his output with the endurance of a top fighter whereas most up and coming fighters tend to fade away.
Gunnar Nelson is the #9 welterweight contender in the world. He won Performance of the Night at UFC Fight Night 87 submitting Albert Tumenov in the second round. Everyone has been expecting a lot from Gunnar. What more do you need to say about Gunnar Nelson other than he grappled with Demian Maia successfully for three straight rounds. He lost the decision but not many people can boast that they spent three rounds on the mat grappling with Damian Maia and survived without being choked out.
In the beginning of MMA jiu-jitsu grapplers like Gracie convinced us that there is much truth to grappling having the edge in MMA. But lately fighters like Jon Jones, Luke Rockhold, Amanda Nunes, and Conor McGregor have made us think there is an edge to striking. Specifically, Muay Thai seems to be establishing an edge in top-level MMA.
Watch this Saturday and you’ll see this classic confrontation in styles. Try noticing the effects of well placed kicks to the legs and ribs and if the distance created by Muay Thai is great enough to stifle the expert grapplers takedowns. That’s what every MMA purest will be doing this Saturday night. I know that’s what I’ll be watching with eyes peeled open at the edge of my chair in this battle of two of the world’s best MMA Warriors.
this article comes to you via @EdwardGross11