It was rumored that the UFC was in the process of signing icelandic welterweight Gunnar Nelson, and it has just become official as Nelson has signed his UFC deal. A highly regarded prospect Nelson has been featured on the World MMA Welterweight Scouting Report here on Bloody Elbow.
Nelson is still just 23-years-old with a 9-0-1 record entering into the Octagon. A life long martial artist, he started out in Goju-ryu karate at the age of thirteen. He quickly became one of the premier young talents in that martial art, but at age seventeen he began training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In just four years Nelson received his black belt from Renzo Gracie, one of the fastest progressions in the history of the martial art.
Nelson began fighting MMA in 2007 and after six professional fights decided to take 2009 to focus on developing his grappling. He qualified for ADCCs that year and surprised everyone when he submitted the much larger Jeff Monson in the Absolute division. Nelson returned to ADCCs in 2011 and proved he wasn't a fluke when he faced down Xande Ribeiro.
Nelson's overall MMA skills and video will be after the jump...
On the feet Nelson will remind many MMA fans of Lyoto Machida, as he uses the same bouncing karate stance to leap in and out of combat. As noted in the scouting report, while much is made of Nelson's grappling background his striking is a potent weapon. In his early career when he was less focused on his grappling, Nelson was showing good power in his strikes.
On the mat Nelson is a wizard, flowing from position to position. The weakness aspect of his game was his wrestling but he took 2011 off from competition to focus on improving that aspect of his game. Nelson is an aggressive grappler in the clinch, using the usual array of wrestling style takedowns but mixes in trips and throws from Judo. Once on the ground Nelson works very quickly to improve position and once in a dominant position he aggressively looks for submissions.
All in all, this is a fantastic prospect to add to the UFC welterweight division, which is experiencing a surge of young fighters. It has yet to be seen who Nelson will fight, but many expect him to take part in the Fuel card in Nottingham, England.
CCXII: Gunnar Nelson vs Alexander Butenko (2012)