UFC 286 Gunnar Nelson vs Bryan Barberena Picks and Predictions: No Judges Needed in London

UFC 286 will feature an exciting welterweight bout between Gunnar Nelson and Bryan Barberena. Our UFC betting picks have your fight breakdown and value highlighted below.

Last Updated: Mar 18, 2023 7:46 AM ET Read Time: 4 min

UFC 286 gets underway tonight at the O2 Arena in London, featuring a deep lineup with an epic trilogy fight in store for the welterweight title.

Prior to that, there's an exciting welterweight bout set to take place on the main card between Gunnar Nelson and Bryan Barberena. UFC odds have Nelson priced as a heavy -420 favorite, while Barberena comes back at +310.

Will Nelson take care of business as a big favorite, or can Barberena get back in the win column with an upset victory? Find out in our free Nelson vs. Barberena picks and predictions for UFC 286.

Gunnar Nelson vs Bryan Barberena fight odds

Gunnar Nelson vs Bryan Barberena method of victory odds

Method of Victory Gunnar Nelson Bryan Barberena
To win by KO/TKO +850 +600
To win by Points +220 +1,000
To win by Submission +105 +2,500
Draw +5,000 +5,000

Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook on March 17, 2023.

Gunnar Nelson vs Bryan Barberena picks

Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Gunnar Nelson vs Bryan Barberena betting preview

Neither of these welterweights comes into this scrap in particularly good form. Gunnar Nelson is just 2-3 over his last five fights with a submission victory, a decision victory, two decision losses, and a loss via knockout.

Meanwhile, Bryan Barberena is 4-4 over his last eight bouts with three decision victories, one knockout, three inside-the-distance losses, and one loss via decision. With that said, I would argue that Nelson’s resume is more impressive.

Nelson’s last two losses came at the hands of current champion Leon Edwards and the number five welterweight contender, Gilbert Burns. In fact, that loss to Edwards came via a split decision, albeit most people would agree that Edwards unanimously won that scrap.

With that in mind, it is impressive nonetheless that he beat the current champion on one judge’s scorecard, which is a product of Nelson’s incredible grappling. As a betting favorite, Nelson is 8-3.

On the other hand, Barberena is 0-4 in his last four fights when priced as the underdog.

Gunnar Nelson vs Bryan Barberena tale of the tape

Gunnar Nelson   Bryan Barberena
34 Age 33
5-foot-11 Height 6-foot-0
170 lbs Weight 170 lbs
72 inches Reach 72 inches
18-5-1 (4 KO) Record 18-9 (11 KO)

Gunnar Nelson vs Bryan Barberena UFC prediction and best bet

This fight features a clash of styles which should create an interesting dynamic inside the octagon. Barberena will want absolutely nothing to do with Nelson’s grappling, a guy who is a third-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Preferring to stand-and-bang, Barberena has not landed a single takedown since in any of his previous 13 fights. On the flip side, Nelson is much more comfortable on the mat.

Styles make fights, and these contrasting styles is the main contributor as to why Nelson is laying nearly four dollars on the moneyline. Barberena struggles against grappling specialists and Nelson typically dominates those who he brings to the mat.

In Barberena’s latest loss, Rafael Dos Anjos landed four of his six takedown attempts and amassed over six minutes of control time before winning by submission in the second round. In his loss before that, Jason Witt landed eight of 18 takedown attempts and accumulated over five minutes of control time en route to a victory over Barberena.

Meanwhile, Nelson landed all three of his takedown attempts and recorded a dominating eight minutes of control time en route to an effortless victory over Takashi Sato. Each of Nelson’s prior six victories came via submission.

Prediction: Nelson by submission (+123 at BetRivers)

In my opinion, it does not make sense to take Nelson via submission at +125 when you can just take him inside the distance at -104. If those 29 cents are a difference-maker for you, then absolutely take him to win via submission because it is highly unlikely Nelson will knock him out.

A grappler without a ton of power, Nelson has zero knockouts since joining the UFC with just one knockdown. Additionally, Barberena possesses a solid chin and has only been knocked out twice in the UFC.

However, as is the case with this beautiful sport, the unexpected often becomes the norm. Just in case Nelson is able to catch Barberena or even win via ground and pound, it is worth the 29 cents to just take him inside the distance instead of the submission prop.

Look for Nelson to bring Barberena to the ground rather effortlessly, a place where a submission is likely to occur.

Pick: Nelson inside the distance (-104 at BetRivers)

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