Gunnar Nelson Wants Rematch with Santiago Ponzinibbio More Than Any Other Fight

Gunnar Nelson would gladly fight Darren Till but his dream fight is a rematch with Santiago Ponzinibbio

Gunnar Nelson isn’t in the business of holding grudges but it’s tough for him to move past his last loss.

Nelson suffered a knockout courtesy of Santiago Ponzinibbio last July in the main event from the UFC card in Scotland, which halted his two fight win streak in the welterweight division.

It wasn’t so much the setback to his career that left Nelson rattled but instead the way he believes Ponzinibbio cheated to win thanks to a series of eye pokes that left him barely able to see much less defend himself from the punches that were soon launched at his head. Nelson isn’t one to complain about getting a raw deal but he truly feels that Ponzinibbio purposefully fouled him in an effort to gain an advantage and the end result was a first round knockout.

That’s why Nelson would like nothing more than to settle the score with Ponzinibbio inside the Octagon with a rematch in 2018.

“I’d love a rematch. That would be a dream match for me,” Nelson said. “I think I kind of deserve a rematch. I wouldn’t have been happy with that win if it was me. I’m pretty damn sure that this was deliberate and I think a lot of people have seen the videos and people know what happened. I think a lot of people would agree with me.

“I had never been better before this fight. I was very, very confident and I felt good about the camp. Same as now. I feel great in training.”

Since their fight ended, Ponzinibbio went on to defeat heavy-handed welterweight Mike Perry this past December while Nelson has been on the sidelines recovering from the knockout.

As much as he wanted to return sooner rather than later, Nelson knew that it was a smart decision to take more time off to allow his head to recover after such a brain-rattling knockout like the one he suffered.

“I felt fine, I felt like I could jump in right away but as we both know that’s usually not a good idea after something like that,” Nelson explained.

“These shots count, these fights count. You need to recover. It’s not like playing soccer where you can play every weekend or twice a week. It’s very different.”

Now that Nelson has taken the time off to recover, he’s anxious to book his next fight and he hopes the UFC will listen to his reasoning behind watching the rematch with Ponzinibbio so badly.

“It was very controversial, the way he poked me in the eyes multiple times. I think it’s a little different. I believe the UFC has done rematches like that before,” Nelsons aid. “This one makes sense to me.”

If the UFC opts against the Ponzinibbio rematch, Nelson certainly isn’t looking for a step down in competition for his next fight because the other bout that has intrigued him recently is a showdown with British slugger Darren Till.

Till rocketed into the top 10 rankings last year with a stunning first round knockout against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and he’s been awaiting word on his next fight ever since.

With the UFC scheduled to land in London in March, Nelson is more than happy to offer Till a challenge in his home country as he looks to book his return fight over the next few months.

“There was some talk about that Darren Till fight and I would like that fight as well. Like I said before, it doesn’t really matter to me. I just want to get in there and get a good opponent,” Nelson said.

“We had a little back and forth me and Darren Till and to be honest I thought that fight was going to happen. I was pretty sure of it. After that then nothing happened. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

More than anything, Nelson just wants to wash the nasty taste of defeat out of his mouth against whatever opponent the UFC throws at him. In a perfect world if he doesn’t get Ponzinibbio now, however, Nelson would still love to get him later in the year because he absolutely has unfinished business that needs settled.

“When you’re on a bit of a roll and you get knocked down, it’s frustrating but it is what it is. I’m here today and all you can do is move forward. I look forward to the future,” Nelson said.

“I’m looking forward to my next match and I would love a rematch with Santiago.”

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.