Iceland’s Gunnar Nelson has long been a favorite among fans of jiu-jitsu in MMA.
Among the first Brazilian jiu-jitsu themed books in the English language was the coming of age tale The Cauliflower Chronicles by Marshal Carper, which included a visit with “Gunni” at BJ Penn’s academy in Hawaii.
He was also featured in Stuart Cooper’s memorable documentary short, A Calm Mind.
Back then, Nelson was streaking to victory in the UFC’s middleweight division, where he won four bouts in a row.
But today, the Renzo Gracie black belt finds himself rebounding from his first MMA loss, a 2014 split decision against Rick Story.
So, those same fans have wondered how Nelson would bounce back from his first taste of adversity as a professional mixed martial artist.
Now, they’ll get their chance.
The UFC announced yesterday that Nelson has been tapped to face John Hathaway at the undercard of UFC 189 in Las Vegas. The match will represent Nelson’s US debut.
Nelson is 13-1-1 as a professional mixed martial artist. He has scored submission victories in three of his five Octagon appearances, and has also earned two “Performance of the Night” bonuses. Among his accomplishments as a grappler are a silver medal at the IBJJF Worlds, and a gold at Pan-Ams — both at brown belt.
His opponent at UFC 189, John Hathaway, is one of England’s top MMA fighters; enjoying a three fight winning streak before a 2014 loss to Dong Hyun Kim in China. He is 17-2 in MMA, and 7-2 in the UFC.
UFC 189, which is scheduled to take place July 11, is headlined by Conor McGregor’s challenge of Jose Aldo for the UFC Featherweight Championship.
Here’s that classic documentary short: