The UFC Copenhagen main card is 2/3rds of the way complete, and so far it’s been very entertaining. Nicolas Dalby’s first UFC bout since 2016 saw him get a decision win over Alex Oliveira in front of his home fans, Ovince Saint Preux rallied from a dismal opening round to submit Michael Oleksiejczuk with another Von Flue choke, Ion Cutelaba wiped out Khalil Rountree with devastating ground-and-pound, and Gilbert Burns prevailed on short notice against welterweight veteran Gunnar Nelson.
Here’s how the fights played out.
Gilbert Burns def. Gunnar Nelson by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Burns had the early edge in a round that was predominantly striking. The Brazilian was aggressive with his low kicks and his overall volume, outlanding the Iceland native. Nelson had a late takedown with some top control time, throwing some strikes but not getting himself into too much trouble in Burns’ guard.
Nelson tried to be more physical with Burns and work in close, but he struggled to get off any significant offense and he failed to take Burns down. It did impact Burns’ ability to throw strikes, but Burns was able to close the second round strongly with a hip toss, which Nelson got up from quickly, but a big flying knee had Nelson hurt. He shot for a takedown and Burns turned that into an anaconda choke, but Nelson defended well. Burns connected on some ground-and-pound late on to steal the round away from Nelson.
Burns continued to find success with heavy calf kicks that noticeably affected Gunnar. It was a grueling affair that saw Nelson try and grind things out against the cage, although it was Burns who was able to get a high-amplitude takedown in the closing stages. He looked to take the back and get hooks in, Nelson scrambled, and Burns shot for another double but ran out of time. It was still a clear-cut win for Burns on short notice.
Ion Cutelaba def. Khalil Rountree Jr by first-round TKO (punches) at 2:35 of round 1
Cutelaba sure hulk-smashed the American prospect. Rountree gave Cutelaba an early scare on the feet, throwing hard elbows and hooks. Cutelaba took matters into his own hands with a trip takedown and then a full-on ground-and-pound assault to force the stoppage. Brutal punches and elbows by the Moldovan to get back in the win column.
Ovince Saint Preux def. Michal Oleksiejczuk by submission (Von Flue choke) at 2:46 of round 2
Round one was an arguably 10-8 for the Polish fighter, as he wasted no time pressuring OSP and lacing him up with head-body combos, with an emphasis on those body blows. Saint Preux was knocked down with a left hand, but when OSP got back to his feet he did try a standing kimura. This backfired and he took some more ground shots before they went back to their feet, with Oleksiejzcuk in nearly full control. OSP had only one sporadic burst has his best offense.
Despite his early dominance, Oleksiejczuk looked to be fading and OSP was finding more success in the clinch. OSP took Oleksiejczuk down and unbelievably was able to win by Von Flue choke for the fourth time in his career. He might as well have this choke named after him at this rate.
Nicolas Dalby def. Alex Oliveira by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
An absolutely boisterous crowd cheered on Dalby in his UFC return, and he did get off to a decent start in the opening frame by landing the better strikes and staying away from Cowboy’s countershots. Oliveira was able to get a takedown late in round one and score with some ground-and-pound before Dalby was able to reverse position and put him on his back before time expired. A tight five minutes that could’ve gone either way, with Oliveira perhaps shading things with his work from top position.
Oliveira suffered an eye poke early in round two, then he had something more serious to deal with when he caught a flush head kick from the Dane. The Brazilian Cowboy tried taking Dalby down, but Dalby hit a nice switch and he got the takedown. Oliveira got hit with plenty of clean shots before he got back to his feet. Dalby hurt Oliveira with some solid knees, and then in an odd sequence when the fight hit the ground, Oliveira landed an illegal upkick while Dalby was down. The referee inexplicably restarted the fight on the feet, when it should’ve been back in the original position. Whatever the case, a dominant round for Dalby.
Round three was weird and controversial. Oliveira took Dalby down for the second time in the fight and spent a couple of minutes on top, landing some shots but nothing too damaging. The referee stood them up for god knows what reason, and it may have cost Alex the fight. He got another takedown, went too high on the back and transitioned to an armbar, which Dalby shook off. Dalby ended the round in mount with more effective offense, and thus an emotional win.