Gunnar Nelson vs Bryan Barberena UFC 286 Fight Prediction, Odds & Picks: Will Nelson Be Rusty in London?

Devon Platana

After much anticipation, UFC 286 is only just over 48 hours away. The O2 Arena in London, England will be buzzing Saturday, March 18 as some of the best MMA fighters on the planet cross the pond. One matchup that many combat sports lovers are looking forward to is the welterweight showdown between Gunnar Nelson (18-5-1) and Bryan Barberena (18-9).

Nelson was originally scheduled to face Daniel Rodriguez in London, however, Rodriguez pulled from the fight in February and was replaced by Barberena. With both Nelson and Barberena looking to crack the welterweight rankings, it’s clear that a victory is important for both men this weekend.

Betting News, once again, has you covered for all of your UFC 286 needs. That includes the latest Nelson vs. Barberena odds from several reputable sportsbooks, as well as an expert prediction and the best bets for the upcoming fight.

Gunnar Nelson vs. Bryan Barberena — Tale of the Tape

Gunnar Nelson — Bryan Barberena

  • Record: 18-5-1 — 18-9
  • Height: 5’11” — 6’0”
  • Reach: 72” — 72”
  • Weight: 170lbs — 170lbs
  • Age: 34 — 33
  • Fighting Stance: Switch — Southpaw
  • Knockouts: 4 — 11

UFC 286: Nelson vs. Barberena Fight Odds (as of Thursday, March 16)

Odds are via our top reviewed and recommended sportsbooks.

FanDuel Sportsbook

  • Gunnar Nelson -400
  • Bryan Barberena +300

Caesars Sportsbook

  • Gunnar Nelson -370
  • Bryan Barberena +290


  • Gunnar Nelson -385
  • Bryan Barberena +295


  • Gunnar Nelson -375
  • Bryan Barberena +280

Nelson Clearly Favored Ahead of UFC 286

Despite making infrequent appearances in the octagon over the last few years, Nelson is still the odds-on favorite ahead of his matchup with Barberena. Nelson averages -383 odds across the four highlighted sportsbook, translating to an implied probability of 79.3%.

Gunnar quickly rose to fame early in his UFC career due to his exciting style. He’s one of the best submission artists that the welterweight division has seen, proven by his being tied with Chris Lytle and Demian Maia for the most submission wins in division history (5).

Unfortunately, injuries have plagued the 34-year-old throughout his career. After losing to Gilbert Burns at UFC Fight Night 160, Nelson went nearly three years without a fight due to an undisclosed injury. He eventually returned to the cage in March 2022 to take on Takashi Sato, winning by unanimous decision in a three-round clash.

Gunnar has yet to fight since then, leaving time to tell if he’ll be dealing with any rust on Saturday.

Standing in the opposite corner is Barberena, who’s coming off a submission loss to Rafael dos Anjos at UFC on ESPN 42. Before that, though, the Knoxville, TN native had rattled off three consecutive victories.

While he had to go the distance to beat Darian Weeks and Matt Brown in the first two of those three fights, Barberena looked sharped in his second-round TKO win over Robbie Lawler at UFC 276.

Even though Nelson hasn’t been active, Barberena knows that he has to take his opponent seriously. At the UFC 286 media day on Wednesday, the southpaw fighter told reporters that he expects the “best version” of Nelson.

“I expect the best Gunnar. I think he’s going to come out firing. I think he’s going to come out ready to extend his win streak and make a run for the top again.” — Bryan Barberena on facing Gunnar Nelson at UFC 286

Despite the odds being stacked against him, it’s clear that Barberena plans on giving Nelson his all.

UFC 286 Betting Markets & Trends for Nelson vs. Barberena

On top of the moneyline, FanDuel Sportsbook offers several betting markets worth considering when making your Nelson vs. Barberena bet.

For example, Nelson is favored got be victorious at UFC 286 by submission at +105 odds. Of his 18 career MMA victories, 12 have come by way of making his opponents tap or pass out. Even though he hasn’t won by submission since 2018, all it’ll take is one mistake for Nelson to catch Barberena and shut out his lights.

Speaking of which, Barberena’s likeliest method of victory is to win by KO/TKO at +600. He has 11 knockout wins in his previous 27 outings, but only one has come in his last eight fights. On top of that, Nelson has only been knocked out once in his career.

Taking the above into account, it’s unsurprising that FanDuel favors that the fight won’t go the distance at -215 odds.

When it comes to method & round combo betting, a long fight isn’t expected. The most likely scenario in this market is Nelson winning by first-round submission (+280) — something he’s done eight times over his 16-year career.

Meanwhile, Barberena’s shortest option is a KO/TKO victory in Round 1 (+1400). The veteran striker has five previous first-round knockout wins in his career. Interestingly enough, Nelson’s sole knockout loss came in the first frame.

Nelson vs. Barberena UFC 286 Fight Prediction

While the odds might be more distant than they should be, I have to go with the favorite at UFC 286. Nelson is one of the best welterweights in the world when he’s on his game, which I think he will be after all this rest. His grappling and submission skills give him a huge advantage over Barberena, who only has a 54% takedown defense rate. It’s going to look close at times, but the favorite will make good on his odds.

As for the best bet, I recommend taking Nelson by submission at +105 odds on FanDuel. There’s little value to backing him on the moneyline and with him having the submission advantage, it makes sense to go in this direction. Besides, Barberena has already submitted twice — including by dos Anjos in his last outing.

Being capable of tapping anyone out, expect Nelson to break Barberena in London.

Looking for More UFC Picks?

We have predictions and picks for multiple fights on the UFC 286 main card, including the main event between Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman.

But if you are interested in checking out UFC and MMA picks from other sources, there are a number of reputable sports handicapping services that we recommend.

Sports Betting Picks

Find trusted services with free offers and guaranteed picks!

One of those sources is Doc’s Sports, which has a great offer going right now.

Doc’s Sports offers a lot of free picks and content, but they also offer $60 worth of premium sports picks free for new premium signups.

UFC 286 Event Details

When is UFC 286?

UFC 286 will take place on Saturday, March 18, 2023.

Where is UFC 286?

UFC 286 will take place at the O2 Arena in London, England.

What time does UFC 286 start?

  • UFC 286 Early Prelims Start Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • UFC 286 Prelims Start Time: 3 p.m. ET
  • Start Time of UFC 286’s Main Card: 5 p.m. ET

How can I watch UFC 286?

The early prelims will be available on UFC Fight Pass, while the prelims will be available on both ESPN2 and ESPN+, and the main card will be available via pay-per-view (which can be ordered through the ESPN+ app).

Other UFC 286 Stories on Betting News

Devon Platana

Devon is a Master of Journalism graduate who joined the sports betting world in 2020. His favorite leagues to cover are the NHL, NBA and NFL, and has a soft spot for fantasy football specifically. Outside of sports, he enjoys the finer things in life like pasta, live music and getting even more tattoos.

Devon is a Master of Journalism graduate who joined the sports betting world in 2020. His favorite leagues to cover are the NHL, NBA and NFL, and has a soft spot for fantasy football specifically. Outside of sports, he enjoys the finer things in life like pasta, live music and getting even more tattoos.