Gunnar Nelson is the first Icelandic athlete to fight for the UFC. Signed by the promotion just a bit over a decade ago, ‘Gunni’ has had his fair share of injuries and losses. While his UFC career may not seem so decorated, the 34-year-old has remained a fan-favorite since his days as an amateur fighter. He seems to switch his fight camps between Dublin\s SBG and Iceland’s Mjölnir MMA quite frequently.
‘Gunni’ has been sitting on the sidelines because of two injuries, both related to his ribs. While he blamed his MMA routine for the first injury, he blamed a wrestling encounter with Hafthor Bjornsson for the second one. Fans remember Hafthor as The Mountain in Game of Thrones.
Gunnar Nelson nationality and religion
Born in northern Iceland, Gunnar has spent most of his life since childhood in Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital. His strong Icelandic descents are apparent from his parents’ roots. The Icelandic grappler’s father, Haraldur Dean Nelson, is of Anglo-American and Icelandic descent. Whereas, his mother, Guðrún Hulda Gunnarsdóttir Nelson, is Icelandic. Haraldur also happens to be Gunni’s manager.
While the last name of his father is a family name, Gunnar’s mother’s last name happens to be patronymic. The 34-year-old can trace his patrilineal ancestry all the way back to his third great-grandfather, Albert Nilsson (later Nelson), who was a Swedish immigrant.
Gunnar has been practicing Christianity his whole life. He doesn’t share much of his religious side on social media. However, as per reports, about 80% of Icelanders fall under the Lutheran State Church. A much smaller chunk happens to be members of other Christian bodies, including the Free Church of Iceland and the Roman Catholic Church.
Are Gunnar Nelson and Conor McGregor friends?
Being a member of SBG (Straight Blast Gym), Ireland, one would assume Gunnar to have Irish roots, just like Conor McGregor. But, such is not the case. As mentioned above, the welterweight has been living in Iceland his whole life. However, he does manage to find his way to Dublin to train under the expertise of John Kavanagh as and when he can.
In a 2016 interview conducted just before his UFC Belfast main event bout, Gunnar had a few things to clarify,
“This is as close as it gets to fighting in my hometown. This is where I went when I was young to train and this is pretty much where I started, in Rathcoole, actually. It feels like home to me. It’s like a second home.”
He further elaborates, “It was before I was in UFC, I was starting to feel that I had a big following in Ireland. A lot of people thought I was Irish because I was always here competing and training.” With that interview, Gunnar made it clear that he was not from Ireland.