MMA Odds and Ends for Friday: Nelson vs. Story to Headline in Sweden

Rick StoryThe past 24 hours has seen the UFC help fill out their upcoming trip to Sweden. Previously without a main event, the card will now be headlined by one of the fastest rising stars in the sport. Gunnar Nelson finally gets the big step up in competition that fans have clamored for, and it comes in the form of Rick Story. While Nelson is from Iceland, not Sweden, he seems to have been adopted as a fan favorite in all of Northern Europe, and will have the crowd firmly in his corner. After Nelson’s performance against Zak Cummings, Story could present him with some issues. Nelson can be very tentative at times in fights, while Story will be coming forward throwing strikes and looking to pressure. That dynamic could translate into Story picking up rounds. Story also has an excellent chin, meaning that if Nelson wants to win this fight he’ll have to be proactive about his takedowns and grappling game. Story did have his back taken quickly and was choked by Demian Maia, so the path to victory is there for Nelson, but it’s not quite as big as in past fights. Nelson will likely open as the favorite, and with all of the hype behind him the line could skyrocket. If the odds become too lopsided, the value could be on Story however. Another bout at UFC Fight Night 53 features a pair of Europeans coming off of losses. Sweden’s Tor Troeng looked uninspired against Trevor Smith, being outgrappled easily in the process and dropping his second consecutive bout. A third loss here against Poland’s Krzysztof Jotko could spell the end of his UFC tenure. Jotko gets a chance for a measure of redemption against the Allstars Training Centre, after Magnus Cedenblad ruined his perfect record in his last appearance. Both fighters are fairly well-rounded, but Troeng’s defensive grappling deficiencies could be his downfall once again, and Jotko will likely open a slight favorite because of that. In other UFC news, the promotion has re-signed Ben Saunders. Following a seven-fight run in the Octagon between 2007 and 2010, Saunders became one of the most well-known fighters for Bellator, competing for that organization ten times. He was scheduled to take on Matt Riddle for the Titan FC welterweight title, but after Riddle was injured and replacement Jose Landi-Jons had visa issues, Titan released him from his contract and allowed him to sign with the UFC. His return bout has not been scheduled as of yet, but he was preparing to fight on August 29th, so he’s probably interesting in keeping on the same timeline. Outside of the UFC, a pair of promotions signed top Brazilian jiu-jitsu players to their rosters. Following just one fight in the Octagon, Roger Gracie was released from the promotion, but he has now found a new home with ONE FC. Gracie should do well in the promotion, as there are few, if any, fighters on the roster who can deal with his grappling. Legacy FC is another promotion that never shies away from bringing in grappling prospects, and they’ve added another in Brazilia jiu-jitsu world champion Augusto Mendes. The bantamweight prospect is a recent convert to MMA, competing for the first time as an amateur in December and twice more as a professional since then. All three victories have come via submission, and watching his progression with the Texas-based promotion will be interesting even though Mendes is already 31 years old.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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