Gunnar Nelson, like most Icelandic youths, spent his early childhood playing soccer and ice hockey. However, it would not be long before the decorated grappler began his path to becoming one of the sport's most talented up-and-comers. When he turned thirteen he decided to take up karate. From 2003 to 2005, he won the Icelandic Juvenile Kumite Championship, as well as many tournaments in between. At seventeen, Gunnar made the decision to give up karate for mixed martial arts and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. In just five short years, many people have labeled him a prodigy in both sports.
Before being invited to ADCC 2009, he took first place as brown belt at several tournaments, including the New York International, and World Jiu-Jitsu Championships. At ADCC, he lost a close match in his weight class to James Brasco. However, it was during the absolute competition that Nelson made the biggest impact of his young career. He was able to defeat standout grappler Jeff Monson by points in double overtime, and David Avellan by rear-naked choke. Not long after returning from ADCC, he was awarded his black belt from Renzo Gracie. Since then, Gunnar has kept up his winning ways with gold in No-Gi at Pan-Ams as well as Icelandic BJJ Championship.
As for his rising mixed martial arts career, Gunnar Nelson is 5-0-1 since debuting in June of 2007. In that bout, Nelson faced veteran John Olesen. Nelson did considerably well against one of Denmark's top fighters, taking him to a draw. Showing improved striking, good takedowns, great control, and relentless ground-and-pound, Gunnar stopped his next five opponents, four of them in the first round. He currently trains out of his MMA gym, Mjölnir, in Iceland, as well as the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York. He has also spent time in Hawaii training with B.J. Penn. Recently, Gunnar took time out of his busy training schedule to answer a few questions from MMA Spot's Chris McClain.
You have accomplished quite a bit and have a lot to be proud of. Is there a certain event or match that really sticks out to you that you are proud of?
Well, I guess the most recent things are usually closest to your mind, so participating in the ADCC 2009 in Barcelona was a very powerful experience and meant a lot to me. I have to say my match with Jeff Monson was a very unique experience for me and one of my favorites
Have you been contacted by any big promotions, or is your focal point small shows for now?
There have been some promotions, big and small, contacting us, but I’m in no hurry and small shows sound just as good to me right now as the big ones do. I will probably not be making any obligations until the beginning of next year. I won’t jump into anything without looking at as many options as possible. And I don’t want to be tied up right now, freedom is important to continue to develop and improve myself