If you haven’t scoped out UFC signee Gunnar Nelson, you should. He’s amassed a slew of impressive finishes en route to building a perfect 9-0 pro record, and his credentials sparkle.
Nelson’s earned top finishes in several international grappling competitions, including the Mundials. Also, as a lad, the blooming Icelander garnered a reputation as Iceland’s premiere karate competitor, according to his personal website.
The owner of artful karate skills and a monstrous grappling acumen, Nelson’s well-roundedness should afford him comfort whether his fights hit the mat or unfold on the feet.
Nelson’s submission prowess and positional control precede him. Renzo Gracie bestowed Nelson’s waist with a black belt, a coveted strip of cloth he earned through his grappling accolades.
Perhaps Nelson’s time at Renzo Gracie’s Academy in New York enlightened him to the caliber of big league mixed martial artists.
Thus far, Nelson’s career has been spent with dim MMA promotions in Europe. In suit, Gunnar mowed down his foes with astonishing ease. He was a samurai slicing through a field of piglets. No foe made it out of the second round against Gunnar, other than his first.
Nelson’s UFC journey will force him to cross paths with a stable of seasoned wrestlers; a mold of fighter scarce is Europe. It’ll be intriguing to see if Nelson can ward off takedowns against UFC grinders, and if his guard is active enough to negate stiff top control. The welterweight division is awash with tough wrestlers who figure to test Nelson's mettle.
Age is in Nelson’s favor: His body has worn only 23 years. Even if his initial ascent up the welterweight ladder is thwarted, his career is young. He has ample time to hone the nuances of his already loaded MMA game before he reaches his physical peak.
In Europe, where his competition was supple, Nelson implemented clever throws and trips to ground his opponents. In order to cater to his grappling strength against UFC welterweights, he may need to diversify his takedown attack even more.
Time will tell of Nelson’s success. His success in grappling and karate competition highlight his learning ability and work ethic. I’d be surprised if those intangibles don’t translate to his UFC career, too.
His first UFC bout is scheduled against Pascal Krauss on September 29th.