Table of Contents
- 1. Gunnar Nelson Details
- 2. Gunnar Nelson Biography
- 2.1. An Account of Early Life & Amateur Fight
- 2.2. Gunnar Nelson’s Pro BJJ Combat
- 2.3. Gunnar Nelson’s Pro-MMA Combat
- 2.4. Gunnar Nelson’s Historic Fights
- 2.5. Gunnar Nelson’s BJJ Instructorship
- 2.6. Gunnar Nelson’s Championship & Accomplishments
- 3. Gunnar Nelson’s Main Achievements
- 4. Gunnar Nelson’s Main Achievements (Belts)
- 5. Gunnar Nelson’s Main Achievements (MMA)
- 6. Gunnar Nelson’s BJJ Professional Record Breakdown
- 7. Gunnar Nelson’s BJJ Fight History
- 8. Gunnar Nelson’s MMA Professional Record Breakdown
- 9. Gunnar Nelson’s MMA Fight History
- 10. Gunnar Nelson’s Top Fights (Video Links)
1. Gunnar Nelson’s Details
|Given Name||Gunnar Lúðvík Nelson|
|Current Residence||Stoke-on-Trent, England|
|Date of Birth||July 28, 1988.|
|Last Fight||March 19, 2022, in UFC|
|Last Weigh In||171 lbs|
|Weight||170 lbs. (77 kg)|
|Height||5 ft 11 in|
|Career Disclosed Earnings||$333,000|
|Fighting out of||Reykjavík, Iceland|
|Foundational style||Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu|
|Rank||2nd Degree Black Belt in BJJ
Black Belt in Goju-Ryu Karate
|Awarded By||Renzo Gracie|
|Lineage||Mitsuyo Maeda -> Carlos Gracie Sr. -> Carlos Gracie, Jr. -> Renzo Gracie -> Gunnar Nelson|
2. Gunnar Nelson’s Biography
“Nobody is born a winner, but anyone can develop the way of thought that guides you in the right direction.”
Gunnar Nelson has had his fair share of victories and defeats throughout his BJJ fighting career. The Icelandic talent started as a karate practitioner and fought his way to the highest platforms of mixed martial arts. Today he is an elite UFC fighter with an MMA record of (18-05-01).
2.1. Gunnar Nelson’s Early Life & Amateur Fight
On July 28, 1988, Iceland welcomed a professional mixed martial arts (MMA) champion into the world. Gunnar Nelson or Gunni for short. Gunnar was born in Akureyri to Haraldur Dean Nelson (Anglo-American), and Guðrún Hulda Gunnarsdóttir Nelson (Icelandic). He spent a major chunk of his early life in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland.
Top-Notch “Karateka” in the Making
Nelson was blessed with athleticism, playing football and ice hockey during his childhood. At the age of 13, he became inclined to train in Goju-Ryu Karate and earned three consecutive wins in the Icelandic Juvenile Kumite Championship from 2003 to 2005. In 2004, the 16-year-old athlete was selected as Iceland’s most promising up-coming-karate talent of the year.
Training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Under Matt Thornton
At the age of 17, Nelson risked his thriving karate career and took a leap of faith to train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Nelson was determined to carve a successful BJJ career for himself. To fulfill this purpose, he frequently flew abroad in search of the best trainers.
One lucky trip to the United Kingdom led him to Matt Thornton of Straight Blast Gym International. Thornton awarded Nelson a blue belt in 2006 and a purple belt in 2007.
BJJ Head Coach - John Kavanagh
The paths of Gunnar Nelson and John Kavanagh - Nelson’s second and current head coach - coincided during a BJJ seminar at Mjolnir. Kavanagh was Matt Thornton’s student and the owner of SBG Ireland. Nelson’s MMA career was flourishing even as a purple belt and grew even more under Kavanagh’s instruction. He received his brown belt from Kavanagh in 2008.
Tutelage of Renzo Gracie & Black Belt
Under IBJJF rules, Kavanagh was not eligible to elevate Nelson to the black belt level since he had not been a black belt for more than six years. Therefore, Nelson, with his trainer’s consent, joined the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York. As expected, his MMA career grew even more.
2.2. Gunnar Nelson’s Pro BJJ Combat
Silver Medalist at Mundial
With Renzo at the helm of BJJ training Nelson competed in prestigious international championships. As a brown belt, he won a silver medal in the 2009 Mundials.
Conquering Pan Championships
Nelson also won a gold and a silver medal in the 2009 Pan American (Gi and No-Gi) Championships.
ADCC Submission Wrestling
Nelson secured 4th place in the 2009 ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship by defeating BJJ black belts Jeff Monson and David Avellan.
Finally a Black Belt
Satisfied by these achievements, Master Renzo promoted Nelson to the black belt level in 2009, making him the youngest European to receive a black belt.
Jiu-Jitsu Career Continued
In 2011, Nelson again secured 4th place in the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship. Although he didn’t win any medals, Nelson received much praise simply for besting Finnish Champion Marko Helen and World Champion Bruno Frazzato.
2.3. Gunnar Nelson’s Pro-MMA Combat
MMA Career - The Beginning
In addition to being a BJJ black belt, Nelson worked extremely hard to become a black belt in Goju-Ryu karate. With his jiu-jitsu career reaching new heights, Nelson explored other opportunities that mixed martial arts had to offer. May 2007 marked the beginning of Nelson’s professional MMA career when he fought the first match against John Olesen in Denmark. Judges ruled the match as a draw.
The debut fight was a confidence booster as Nelson won the next five fights in Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.
BAMMA Fight Event
Nelson took a break after many remarkable victories and returned to the game at BAMMA 2: Roundhouses at the Roundhouse in 2010. He worked his magic in the first round and subdued Sam Elsdon. At Cage Contender 6, he overpowered Danny Mitchell. Later that year at BAMMA 4: Reid vs Watson, Nelson confronted and subdued a tough British combatant named Eugene Fadiora in the first round.
Nelson took another break and returned to MMA in 2012 to give his opponent, Alexander Butenko, a taste of a successful armbar in the first round of Cage Contender 12, Ireland.
In 2012, Nelson signed a multi-fight contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He made his debut at UFC on Fuel TV 5 against Damarques Johnson. He subdued Johnson with a calculated rear-naked choke, leaving his fans in awe.
In 2013, at UFC on Fuel - Barao vs McDonald, Nelson scored a victory by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27) against Jorge Santiago, a former Sengoku middleweight champion.
UFC Career Highlights
Nelson’s next contest was at UFC Fight Night 37 against Omari Akhmedov in 2014. He finished his rival with a conclusive guillotine choke and earned his first Performance of the Night award.
This award was presented to Nelson again for defeating Zak Cummings through a genius rear-naked choke in the second round.
In 2015, at UFC 189, Nelson submitted Brandon Thatch via rear-naked choke.
Lost to Win
In December 2015, at UFC 194, Nelson lost the highly-anticipated bout against Demian Maia via unanimous decision. However, the defeat paved the way to another victory.
In 2016, at UFC Fight Night 87, Nelson submitted Albert Tumenov to earn his third Performance of the Night award. The fourth Performance of the Night bonus was presented to him after he showcased a brilliant guillotine choke to defeat his opponent in mere minutes.
The same year at UFC Fight Night 53, Nelson experienced the first defeat of his MMA career at the hands of Rick Story through a split decision.
Gunnar Nelson vs Santiago Ponzinibbio - UFC Fight Night
In 2017, at UFC Fight Night 113, Santiago Ponzinibbio knocked out Nelson in the first round. After losing the battle, Nelson shed some light on the reason for his defeat at the post-contest press conference. He claimed that Santiago had poked him in the eye and further said:
“I should have said something because I was seeing double for the rest of the fight. He caught me with a shot that I didn’t really see.”
He took his case to the UFC but his appeal was denied.
One Up, Two Downs
After the 2017 debacle, Nelson redeemed himself at the UFC 231 held in 2018. A well-played rear-naked choke was all it took to defeat Alex Oliveira.
In 2019, at UFC Fight Night 147, he lost the fight to Leon Edwards by a split decision. At UFC Fight Night 160, Gilbert Burns managed to win against Nelson via unanimous decision.
Takashi Sato Replaced Claudio Silva
Nelson stayed away from the MMA scene for more than two years. After his comeback, his first fight was against Claudio Silva. Silva reported a knee injury and was replaced by Takashi Sato.
The year 2022 marked another stunning victory for Nelson against Sato via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night 204. This fight was extremely important for his MMA career as he was unable to secure a UFC win in 2019 due to injuries and a decision setback. Nelson had a lot to prove and with this victory, the MMA star did just that.
2.4. Gunnar Nelson’s Historic Fights
Gunnar Nelson vs Jorge Santiago
The black belt Nelson demonstrated excellent striking and grappling skills in an intense UFC welterweight fight at the UFC on Fuel TV 7 McDonald. He defeated Jorge Santiago in the third round via unanimous decision.
|2013||UFC on Fuel TV 7||Jorge Santiago||Win||Decision (Unanimous)||3||Welterweight||London, UK|
Gunnar Nelson vs Zak Cummings
In 2014, the UFC promotion arranged an epic welterweight fight between black belt Gunnar Nelson and an equally accomplished martial artist Zak Cummings. The epic match lived up to the expectations. The duo faced each other at UFC Fight Night 46 - Mc Gregor.
Nelson dominated Cummings with a lethal rear-naked choke in the second round and won the bout.
|2014||UFC Fight Night 46 - Mc Gregor||Zak Cummings||Win||RNC||2||Welterweight||Dublin, Ireland|
Gunnar Nelson vs Sam Elsdon
In 2010, Gunnar Nelson confronted Sam Elsdon at the BAMMA 2 - Roundhouses event. The welterweight bout between the two aggressive martial artists was quite a challenge. Nelson outdid Elsdon’s game and quickly dominated him in the first round. He then proceeded to claim the win and successfully finished the match via rear-naked choke.
|2010||BAMMA 2 - Roundhouses at the Roundhouse||Sam Elsdon||Win||RNC||1||Welterweight||England, UK|
2.5. Gunnar Nelson’s BJJ Instructorship
Nelson is not just a fighter but an excellent trainer, too. He cross-teaches Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and mixed martial arts at Mjolnir, SBG Ireland, Renzo Gracie Academy, and SBG Mainline, Manchester.
2.6. Gunnar Nelson’s Championship & Accomplishments
- World Jiu-Jitsu Championship (Gi)
- Pan American Championship (Gi)
- North American Grappling Association
- Pan American Championship (No-Gi)
- Ultimate Fighting Championship
- Nordic MMA
Records/Medals - Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
- World Champion
- Pan America Champion
- Scandinavian Open.
- Pan American No-Gi Champion
|World Jiu-Jitsu Championship (Gi)||2009||1 Silver Medal|
|Pan American Championship (Gi)||2009||1 Gold Medal|
|Pan American Championship (No-Gi)||2009||1 Gold Medal|
|Pan American Championship||2009||1 Silver Medal|
|Scandinavian Open||2009||1 Silver Medal|
3. Gunnar Nelson’s Main Achievements
He won the North American Grappling Association (NAGA) Middleweight Championship once.
He won the Pan American Gi Championship once.
He won the Pan American No-Gi Championship once.
4. Gunnar Nelson’s Main Achievements (Belts)
4.1. Black Belt
|1st||Black||Pan American No-Gi Championship
|2nd||Black||Pan American No-Gi Championship
4.2. Colored Belt
|1st||Brown||Pan American Gi Championship||2009|
|2nd||Brown||World Jiu-Jitsu Championship||2009|
5. Gunnar Nelson’s Main Achievements (MMA)
He won the UFC Performance of the Night award four times.
He won two Nordic MMA Awards.
|2018||Submission of the Year||Alex Oliveira|
|2015||Submission of the Year||Brandon Thatch|
Worldwide MMA Rankings
|51||Greatest MMA Fighter of All Time|
|29||Current Best MMA Welterweight Fighter|
6. Gunnar Nelson’s BJJ Professional Record Breakdown
|Professional Jiu-Jitsu Record Breakdown|
|14 Matches||8 Wins||6 Losses|
6.1. Submission Methods W/L
|Submission Method||4 Wins||1 Loss|
|Rear Naked Choke (RNC)||2||0|
7. Gunnar Nelson’s BJJ Fight History
|2011||ADCC World Championship||Alexandre Ribeiro||L||Points||4F||ABS|
|2011||ADCC World Championship||Bruno Frazzato||W||Points||R1||ABS|
|2011||ADCC World Championship||Andre Galvao||L||Points||4F||88 kg|
|2011||ADCC World Championship||Marko Helen||W||Points||R1||88 kg|
|2011||Mjolnir Open||Bjarni Kristjansson||W||Submission (Guillotine Choke)||N/A||ABS|
|2011||Mjolnir Open||Brynjólfur Ingvarsson||W||Submission (Armbar)||N/A||ABS|
|2010||Health & Fitness Expo||Mike Russell||W||Submission (RNC)||N/A||Superfight|
|2010||Grapplers Quest: Beast of the East||Azunna Anyanwu||L||Points||N/A||ABS|
|2010||Grapplers Quest: Beast of the East||Ronnie Mikvenski||W||Points||N/A||ABS|
|2009||ADCC World Championship||Vinny Magalhaes||L||Points||3RD||ABS|
|2009||ADCC World Championship||Alexandre Ribeiro||L||Submission (Kneebar)||SF||ABS|
|2009||ADCC World Championship||David Avellan||W||Submission (RNC)||4F||ABS|
|2009||ADCC World Championship||Jeff Monson||W||Points||R1||ABS|
|2009||ADCC World Championship||James Brasco||L||Referee Decision||R1||88 kg|
8. Gunnar Nelson’s MMA Professional Record Breakdown
|Professional MMA Record Breakdown|
|24 Matches||18 Wins||5 Losses|
8.1. Submission Methods W/L
|Submission Method||12 Wins||0 Loss|
|Rear Naked Choke (RNC)||7||0|
9. Gunnar Nelson’s MMA Fight History
|2022||UFC fight Night 204 - Volkov vs. Aspinall||Takashi Sato||W||Decision (Unanimous)||3||Welterweight|
|2019||UFC Fight Night 160 - Hermansson vs. Cannonier||Gilbert Burns||L||Decision (Unanimous)||3||Welterweight|
|2019||UFC Fight Night 147 - Till vs. Masvidal||Leon Edwards||L||Decision (Split)||3||Welterweight|
|2018||UFC 231 - Holloway vs. Ortega||Alex Oliveira||W||Submission (RNC)||2||Welterweight|
|2017||UFC Fight Night 113 - Nelson vs. Ponzinibbio||Santiago Ponzinibbio||L||KO (Punches)||1||Welterweight|
|2017||UFC Fight Night 107 - Manuwa vs. Anderson||Alan Jouban||W||Submission (Guillotine Choke)||2||Welterweight|
|2016||UFC Fight Night 87 - Overeem vs. Arlovski||Albert Tumenov||W||Submission (Neck Crank)||2||Welterweight|
|2015||UFC 194 - Aldo vs. McGregor||Demian Maia||L||Decision (Unanimous)||3||Welterweight|
|2015||UFC 189 - Mendes vs. McGregor||Brandon Thatch||W||Submission (RNC)||1||Welterweight|
|2014||UFC Fight Night 53 - Nelson vs. Story||Rick Story||L||Decision (Split)||5||Welterweight|
|2014||UFC Fight Night 46 - McGregor vs. Brandao||Zak Cummings||W||Submission (RNC)||2||Welterweight|
|2014||UFC Fight Night 37 - Gustafsson vs. Manuwa||Omari Akhmedov||W||Submission (Guillotine Choke)||1||Welterweight|
|2013||UFC on Fuel TV 7 - Barao vs. McDonald||Jorge Santiago||W||Decision (Unanimous)||3||Welterweight|
|2012||UFC on Fuel TV 5 - Struve vs. Miocic||DaMarques Johnson||W||Submission (RNC)||1||Catchweight|
|2012||CC 12 Nelson vs. Butenko||Alexander Butenko||W||Submission (Armbar)||1||Welterweight|
|2010||BAMMA 4 - Watson vs. Reid||Eugene Fadiora||W||Submission (RNC)||1||Welterweight|
|2010||CC 6 - Nelson vs. Mitchell||Danny Mitchell||W||Submission (RNC)||1||Welterweight|
|2010||BAMMA 2 - Roundhouses at the Roundhouse||Sam Elsdon||W||Submission (RNC)||1||Welterweight|
|2008||Adrenaline 3 - Evolution||Iran Mascarenhas||W||KO (Punches)||2||Welterweight|
|2007||AM 14 - Ready For War||Barry Mairs||W||TKO (Punches)||1||Welterweight|
|2007||COT 1 - Battle on the Bay||Niek Tromp||W||TKO (Submission to Punches)||1||Welterweight|
|2007||UFR 10 - Ultimate Fighting Revolution 10||Adam Slawinski||W||TKO (Punches)||1||Welterweight|
|2007||Cage Rage - Contenders: Dynamite||Driss El Bakara||W||Submission (Armbar)||1||Welterweight|
|2007||Adrenaline 1 - Feel the Rush||John Olesen||D||Draw (Split)||3||Welterweight|
10. Gunnar Nelson’s Top Fights (Video Links)
Gunnar Nelson vs Clark Gracie
Gunnar Nelson vs Michael Russell