Beneath his quite and somewhat mysterious demeanor. lies a fighter who’s objective is clear; to finish ever fight. Thus far in the career of Gunnar Nelson, he has been able to do so. There have been very few fighters that have come the last few years with Gunnar’s pedigree, and those whom have tried challenging him, all have been submitted or knocked out. The most outstanding aspect about Gunnar Nelson is not his undefeated record (in exception for the Draw in his first fight against John Olesen) , it is the fact that every Martial Art discipline he has undertaken he has excelled at the highest levels; he is virtually the ‘King Midas’ of Martial Arts. For instance, at the age of 13 he started training in Goju Ryu Karate, by the time he was 15 he won Iceland’s Juvenile Kumite Championship; he went on to retain that title for over 3 years. Practically every Kumite tournament he participated in from 2003 – 2005, he always won a medal. At the age of 17 Gunnar Nelson discovered Grappling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, decided at this point to give this art form a try. Gunnar not only became one of the best grapplers in Iceland, he became one of the best grapplers in the world. His most defining year came in 2009 where he achieved the following:
Silver Medal – 2009 World Jiu-Jitsu Championship, brown belt category
Gold Medal – 2009 Pan American Championship (Gi)
Gold and Silver Medal at 2009 Pan American Championship, Open Class (No-Gi)
4th place – 2009 ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship (defeated David Avellan and Jeff Monson)
Received Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Renzo Gracie
To say the least, Gunnar became as accomplished a grappler as he was a Karate fighter; overall, one of the most well-rounded Martial Artist in the world. Every victory he has achieved in the Octogon since September 2007, have all be finished in the first round, in exception to one. So the pending question is why does Gunnar Nelson have what it takes to become a serious contender for the Welterweight title in the UFC?
Firstly Gunnar presents a style that confuses opponents. As he is from a Karate background, his fighting reflects this style. In the fight against DaMarques Johnson, he assume a fighting stance very reminiscent as the one made popular by Lyoto Machida; it is a stance that few traditional MMA fighter have yet to decipher. Gunnar is also ambidextrous, as he is able to switch stances and strike at will. Secondly he presents top-level striking, again courtesy of his Karate background. As in the case of Lyoto Machida, fighters will have problems trying to figure out Gunnar’s timing and know when to react. In the DaMarques Johnson fight, Gunnar was able manipulate his kick in such a manner that it he feigned a low kick, and caught DeMarques in the face in one motion; this type of dexterity is rare in MMA fighter, which give Gunnar is definite advantage over his opponents. But of all the aspect in Gunnar repertoire, his grappling perhaps is the thing that set him apart from most of the fighters in his weight category. As was exemplified in the DaMarques Johnson fight, Gunnar Nelson is extremely strong; to put this in perspective, when he defeated Jeff Monson at the 2009 ADCC tournament, Jeff outweighed him by over 68 pounds; yet Gunnar was able to overwhelm him in that fight. Gunnar prior to this fight had 8 victories by way of Submission, DaMarques Johnson to his credit made a valiant effort to avoid the inevitable; however very few accomplished grapplers have been able to withstand Gunnar on the ground.
Gunnar Nelson has all the attributes to become a contender for the Welterweight time, some even tout him as being a future champion in the UFC. As DaMarques Johnson learned, when fighting someone like Gunnar Nelson, your best bet is to have a well rounded game; and even if you game is well rounded, there is no promise you will make past the first round.