Gunnar Nelson expected to return at UFC 231 vs. ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira

Gunnar-Nelson-punches-Brandon-Thatch-at-UFC-189

Gunnar Nelson, top, wrestles with Brandon Thatch during their 2015 welterweight mixed martial arts bout at UFC 189 in Las Vegas. (John Locher/AP)

UFC 231 continues to take shape and an intriguing welterweight contest between ranked contenders Gunnar Nelson and Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira is expected to be added to the Dec. 8 card slated for Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena.

The bout was first reported by ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.

Nelson (16-3-1) is a dynamic submission artist that also carries knockout power and a unique striking style. He has earned four Performance of the Night bonuses since 2014. A longtime training partner of Conor McGregor at the SBG Ireland gym in Dublin, Nelson hasn’t fought since being knocked out by Santiago Ponzinibbio in July of 2017.

Oliveira (19-5-2, two no-contests) is riding a two-fight winning streak that includes a first-round submission of Carlos Condit. He has four performance bonuses since 2015.

Oliveira and Nelson are the 13th- and 14th-ranked contenders, respectively, in the UFC’s 170-pound division.

The UFC 231 bout order has not been finalized beyond the two title fights but here is a tentative look at the fights slated to take place on the card:

— Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega (for featherweight title)
— Valentina Shevchenko vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (for vacant women’s flyweight title)
— Jimi Manuwa vs. Thiago Santos
— Gunnar Nelson vs. Alex Oliveira
— Claudia Gadelha vs. Nina Ansaroff
— Eryk Anders vs. Elias Theodorou
— Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Gilbert Burns
— Brad Katona vs. Matthew Lopez
— Chad Laprise vs. Dhiego Lima
— John Makdessi vs. Carlos Diego Ferreira
— Hakeem Dawodu vs. Kyle Bochniak
— Devin Clark vs. Aleksandar Rakic
— Katlyn Chookagian vs. Jessica Eye
— Renato Moicano vs. Mirsad Bektic

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