Veteran UFC welterweight Rick Story likes to hand undefeated fighters their first loss. He put the first blemish on champion Johnny Hendricks’ record at The Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale in 2010 and did the same to Gunnar Nelson on Saturday.
Nelson employed his usual in and out style while Story delivered leg kicks and worked hooks to the body. Story stayed patient and looked to time Nelson with counter strikes as he closed the distance.
As the fight wore on, Story picked up the pace and his left hand started to find a home. The biggest moment came in the fourth round when Story clipped Nelson as he moved forward, knocking the Icelander to the ground.
“I switched my stance and he wasn’t expecting the left hook coming from the lead hand I don’t think. I just winged it out there hoping that it’d land and it hit its mark,” said Story about he knockdown.
Nelson recovered, but was visibly slower after being knocked down. Story let him get up and continued to land strikes. He fended off Nelson’s takedown attempts and outworked his 26-year-old opponent. The judges scored the fight for Story by split decision, but it should have been unanimous.
“I wasn’t going to underestimate Gunnar. He’s a great opponent. He’s a stud. I have the highest respect for him. I respect his ground game so much. And look at my face, he tagged me quite a bit,” said Story after the win.
He was impressed with Nelson’s ability to remain stoic after being tagged with shots.
“He’s definitely quick. Normally when you hit opponents, they give some expression on their face. He’s got the toughest poker face in the game, no emotion,” said Story.
Looking ahead, Story doesn’t care who he faces next but wants to stay active.
“I don’t know what the standings are. I don’t really pay attention to them. I just know that I belong up there. I don’t care who I face next. Line them up, and I’m ready to fight,” he said.
Nelson took his first career loss in stride and believes he’ll learn a lot from the loss.
“Rick kept a really good pressure. He was kind of hard to hit and he always came back. Every time I went in on him, he started swinging. He has really good cardio. He goes and goes and goes. He didn’t really slow down too much, so he’s a tough puzzle,” he said about Story.
“I’m definitely going to learn so much from this fight. I think that everything that happens here, you can take that and learn so much. I’m happy with this fight. I’m glad for Rick Story and I look forward to going to the gym again,” he added.