When he debuted in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the 26-year-old http://fightland.vice.com/blog/fightland-meets-gunnar-nelson-and-conor-mcgregors-coachhttp://fightland.vice.com/blog/fightland-meets-gunnar-nelson-and-conor-mcgregors-coach delivered a loud rear-naked choke submission over DaMarques Johnson about three minutes into the first round. That was in 2012, three years after he received his black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu from a living legend, Renzo Gracie.
That was far from Nelson’s first fight: prior to signing with the UFC, Nelson had 10 professional fights under his belt. Nine of those were wins, while his very first professional contest ended in a draw. Of those nine post-pro debut and pre-UFC career, every single one of them ended with a finish—mostly by submission, although that perfect record was lightly pockmarked with a few knockouts.
After defeating DaMarques Johnson, Nelson went on to defeat Jorge Santiago in a unanimous decision—the first of his career—before continuing on his ascending path and submitting Omari Akhmedov and Zak Cummings. He submitted those fighters in the first and second round respectively.
Nelson was then heralded as one of the most promising young fighters in the promotion. The Icelandic fighter is also a member of Dublin’s Straight Blast Gym, training alongside the most divisive character currently operating within the UFC’s realm, the “Notorious” Conor McGregor. Unfortunately, Nelson’s last fight, in October of last year, delivered his first-ever loss, a tight split decision to Rick “Horror” Story.
Now, the SBG fighter will have his chance to continue his ascension, as he has been tapped to join teammate Conor McGregor in Las Vegas, this upcoming July 11th, in what is one of the biggest moments the community has witnessed. While McGregor and José Aldo will define the future of the featherweight division and Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald battle for the welterweight crown, Nelson will take on John Hathaway at UFC 189. It’ll be the first time “Gunni” fights in United States soil.
Hathaway’s last fight was also a loss—last March—albeit much more dramatic than Nelson’s. Versus Dong Hyun Kim, “The Hitman” got rocked by a ferocious spinning back elbow that dropped him cold. In the UFC since 2009, Hathaway’s career is a long list of decision-victories.
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