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Gunnar Nelson has been limited to just four fights since losing to Demian Maia at the end of 2015. But “Gunni” has made the most of his time out by going 3-1, including a spectacular second-round submission of Alex Oliveira at UFC 231.
This weekend, he will try to further his ranking when he meets No. 10-ranked Leon Edwards. While not bypassing the Englishman, Nelson has his eyes set on a bigger prize as the two top welterweights co-headline UFC’s return to The O2 Arena in London. Here is a by-the-numbers look on the submission specialist from Iceland.
13: Years old when he started training karate. The young Nelson won the Icelandic Juvenile Kumite Championship for three straight years (2003-2005) and placed in every karate tournament he joined. And at the age of 16, he was selected as the country’s most promising up-and-coming karate talent for the year 2005.
17: Years old when started to take up Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Nelson medaled in multiple tournaments, including the Mundials and the Pan-American Championships. While he had previously won gold at the Pan-Ams, he turned heads at ADCC where he grabbed fourth place in the absolutes, defeating the likes of heavier guys such as Jeff Monson and David Avellan.
10: Fights in different European promotions before getting signed by the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He went 9-0-1 fighting in Ireland, Denmark and England. The only draw of his career came in his professional debut at an event in Copenhagen.
4: Straight victories to start his UFC career, defeating DaMarques Johnson, Jorge Santiago, Omari Akhmedov and Zak Cummings. Among the four, only Santiago didn’t get submitted.
5: Full rounds with Rick Story, losing via split decision. While it looked like a close match from the judges’ scorecards, their UFC Fight Night 53 encounter was actually a one-sided affair that went Story’s favor. After that setback, however, Nelson came back with a first-round submission of Brandon Thatch.
13: Wins by submission. Given his rich grappling background, submissions are Nelson’s primary mode of offense. His victims by tapout include Driss El Bakara, Niek Tromp (due to punches), Sam Elsdon, Danny Mitchell, Eugene Fadiora, Alexander Butenko, DaMarques Johnson, Omari Akhmedov, Zak Cummings, Brandon Thatch, Albert Tumenov, Alan Jouban and Alex Oliveira.
57: Percent takedown accuracy in UFC competition. Nelson attempted to take his opponents down 21 times and was successful on 10 occasions.
3: Wins by KO or TKO. With a decent amount of power and a good sense of distance and timing, Nelson knocked out Adam Slawinski, Barry Mairs and Iran Mascarenhas.
110: Seconds is his fastest finish. It happened against Niek Tromp in an event called Cage of Truth 1: Battle on the Bay in Dublin, Ireland. As aforementioned, Gunnar won by submission due to punches.
4: Performance of the Night bonuses pocketed. Gunnar is a known finisher who won the post-fight award for his stoppage of Akhmedov, Cummings, Tumenov and Jouban.