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


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

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.