UFC Fight Night: Gunnar Nelson vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio predictions

Gunnar Nelson enters Sunday as the favorite over Argentinian Santiago Ponzinibbio. Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

The UFC schedule features a unique event this weekend inside SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow, Scotland.

While the MMA world has been fixated on Conor McGregor and his press conferences with Floyd Mayweather this week, McGregor's SBG Ireland teammate and close friend Gunnar Nelson will attempt to steal the spotlight on Sunday.

Nelson, of Iceland, will seek his third consecutive win when he meets Argentinian Santiago Ponzinibbio in a five-round welterweight main event.

In the co-main event, Glasgow native Joanne Calderwood will try to stop surging American strawweight Cynthia Calvillo in front of a hometown crowd.

Which fighters are poised for a successful weekend in Scotland? Here are my picks for UFC Fight Night:

Gunnar Nelson (16-2-1) vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio (24-3), welterweight

Odds: Nelson -160; Ponzinibbio +140

From a promotional standpoint, this matchup is out of left field. There's a lot of hype behind Nelson -- and virtually none behind Ponzinibbio.

Nelson wanted a higher-profile opponent, but the timing didn't work out. So, he's headlining against Ponzinibbio in what might look like a "showcase" fight on the surface, but it's really not. Despite low name recognition, Ponzinibbio is a legit threat.

Part of the reason Ponzinibbio hasn't made more noise, despite his 6-2 UFC record, is that nothing really stands out about his style. It's a buttoned up skill set with no obvious holes to exploit -- but no unstoppable element to it either.

His best weapon is probably the jab, which sets up his overhand right. He keeps a steady pressure on, which has occasionally forced some of his previous opponents into stand-and-trade scenarios, which he usually gets the better of. In other words, he's technical, but does well when things turn into a brawl, and his pressure occasionally forces that.

The key for Ponzinibbio on Sunday is to force those exchanges while maintaining a boxing range. Anytime Nelson can get his arms around Ponzinibbio, it's not good. Ponzinibbio is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, but no one is debating who has the grappling edge here. Nelson has cut through the guard of almost every opponent he's faced, with one huge exception in Demian Maia.

Nelson's takedown methods are fluid and he times them well. He's awkward on the feet, constantly mixing stances and tempo. That makes him unpredictable, and he'll cut into space, secure a bodylock and trip an opponent to the ground in one seamless motion. And the real danger is that he needs to do that only once because he's so heavy and controlling from top position.

If he's unable to take Ponzinibbio down, though, well, then we've got a fight. Nelson's super-wide stance leaves him vulnerable to the front leg kick, and he does absorb power shots at times when he's caught in the middle of switching stances, with his hands down.

Nelson has a proven chin, and the likelihood of him getting Ponzinibbio to the floor in a five-round fight makes him the clear favorite, but this isn't a gimme.

Prediction: Nelson via submission, fourth round

Joanne Calderwood (11-2) vs. Cynthia Calvillo (5-0), strawweight

Calvillo's mixed martial arts career is in hyperdrive. She's not even one year removed from her pro debut. This is a big spot for the Sacramento-based female -- in enemy territory.

Prediction: Calderwood via decision

Steven Ray (21-6) vs. Paul Felder (13-3), lightweight

Fight of the Night potential here. Two guys with a lot of talent, capable of putting together a run if they put it all together. This will be a high-level lightweight fight.

Prediction: Felder via TKO