March 17, 2023 12:18 PM
Ewan Lavender

MMA Preview – Gunnar Nelson vs Bryan Barberena at UFC 286

Click here for today’s sports betting tips from our expert analysts!


When is UFC 286? Saturday 18th March, 2023 - 19:00 (Prelims) 21:00 (PPV - £19.95)

Where is UFC 286? The O2 Arena, London (US)

Where can I get tickets for UFC 286? Click here to buy tickets for UFC 286

What channel is UFC 286 on? BT Sport 1

Where can I stream UFC 286? BT Sport subscribers can stream the fight online via the BT Sport website

For viewers in the United States, the event will be shown live on ESPN+ and you can sign up for access as part of a Disney Bundle here!


It is great to see Gunnar Nelson (18-5-1) again as he has only fought once since 2019. Back then, he was on a two-fight skid losing decisions to the current champion Leon Edwards (2019) and former title challenger Gilbert Burns (2019). The pandemic halted his comeback along with another rib injury he sustained grappling with ‘The Mountain’. However, he finally returned a year ago in London to seal a comfortable unanimous decision over Takashi Sato.

Since Nelson’s loss to Burns, Bryan Barberena (18-9) has had six fights. In that time, he surged into the form of his career by earning decisions over Darian Weeks (2021) and Matt Brown (2022) before pulling off a second-round TKO over the legend Robbie Lawler (2022) which earnt him his second ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus in a row. That led him into the path of another legend but who still possesses his prowess. Rafael dos Anjos (2022) submitted him in the second round to halt the momentum.


Barberena steps in for Daniel Rodriguez and this is arguably a better match up for Nelson. Bam Bam’s takedown defence has always been a hole in his game and Nelson has some of the best jiu-jitsu in the division.

As usual, Nelson will be lighter on the night, but his top control will make him feel like a middleweight. Barberena needs to keep this on the feet, force the pressure and get in Nelson’s face with a relentless volume.

However, Nelson is very illusive in his karate style and he has the movement and footwork to frustrate Barberena which will make it easier to take him down. If Barberena starts quickly, he could easily pull off the upset, but we are backing the Icelander to drag the fight into his domain and show off his elite submission skills.

Prediction: Nelson via Submission - CLICK HERE FOR PARIMATCH'S WELCOME OFFER (BET £5, GET £30 IN BONUSES!)

Value bet: Barberena to win

TSZ Latest