Alex Oliveira’s fight against Gunnar Nelson at UFC 231 on Dec. 8 was a wild back-and-forth affair that ended in the memorable image of Oliveira tapping to a rear-naked choke while blood poured everywhere from a huge gash on his forehead.
In the second round, the Brazilian was mounted by his opponent and was on the receiving end of a brutal slashing elbow from Nelson. The elbow immediately opened up a cut on the forehead of Oliveira and as the Brazilian scrambled to prevent more damage Nelson took his back and sunk in the choke. Oliveira tapped almost immediately.
The 30 year-old told MMA Fighting that he required 39 stitches to deal with the cut and that Nelson’s elbow changed the fight.
”38 stitches, man. They did 38 stitches,” Oliveira said. “But it’s part of the game, right, man? Like you said, that elbow completely changed the course of the fight.”
Oliveira said that while the official result was a loss by submission due to a rear-naked choke, the tap was due to alarm over the cut, not because of Nelson’s hold.
”The rear-naked choke was in, but I was alive, I was fine. The problem was all that blood,” Oliveira said. “When I put my hand on my forehead I felt everything was f***ing open, I couldn’t see anything. Even if I made out of that round, the referee wouldn’t let me continue.”
The cut means “Cowboy” will serve a medical suspension of 180 days but he’s already looking forward to getting back into the Octagon in March.
”This loss was a win for me. We also learn when we lose, right?” Oliveira said. “I keep my head held high. Let’s prepare for the next one. I can’t train now, but I can’t stand still. I need to do something. Losses are part of the game, we understand that. That elbow changed everything. It was his day, not mine, and I accept it. Let’s work for the next one.”