06 Jun Interview with Sunna ‘Tsunami’ Davidsdottir
Sunna ‘Tsunami’ Davidsdottir is the first professional female MMA fighter from Iceland with a record on 2 wins and 0 losses. She is a member of the Mjolnir MMA team in Reykjavik, Iceland and is currently signed with Invicta Fighting Championships. We caught up with her and she told us why her nickname is ‘Tsunami’, how she got into MMA, what it’s like training with the likes of Gunnar Nelson, Conor McGregor and Joanne Calderwood and whats next for her in her career. Check out the interview below.
How did you get in to the MMA?
Originally I made the decision to start training to be able defend myself. At the time I was working a lot during the night, driving a taxi and working at the bar in nightclubs and as a bouncer. I quite often found myself in vulnerable situations so I thought to myself that it’d be wise to know a thing or two if something came up. I started off in Muay Thai but that escalated quickly and I soon became curious about other forms of combat sports and started training at Mjolnir MMA.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
There is a lot of different people that inspire me but there are two in particular that I really look up to and seek motivation to. First I’d like to name Muhammad Ali. I’ve watched most of his fights and I have always been a big fan of him and his approach to life as an athlete. He was in a league of his own back then and if he were amongst today’s heavyweights I’m sure that he’d still be the king. Ali had such mental strength, strategy and wit. That added to his incredible athleticism and boxing talent made him the greatest athlete of all times in my opinion. My other biggest inspiration is my good friend and team-mate Gunnar Nelson. If not for him, I would probably not have pursued a career in fighting. It was a complete game changer for me when I started training with him and everyone else at Mjolnir. He is such a calm influence, such a knowledgeable guy and such an incredible fighter. It’s impossible to not be inspired when you train with him. He is on a roll now and I know that we are about to see the best Gunnar Nelson we’ve ever seen in the coming months.
Your nickname is “Tsunami” How did you get that name?
I got this name in Phuket, Thailand in 2013. I spent 4 months there at Tiger Muay Thai, living in the dorm and training from sunrise to sunset. This was pretty much the start of my career as an amateur fighter, I fought 6 times during this time and won all my fights. The locals were very adamant that I needed to have a fighter nickname. A few pretty crappy suggestions were tried on and then put to bed but Sunna Tsunami was the one that stuck. It fit my fighting style pretty nicely and it’s got a nice sound to it. A Tsunami is a force of nature. So powerful that it destroys everything in it’s way. It motivates me to live up to the meaning of that name, but I would never have taken this name on if it wasn’t for my stay in Phuket. Living over there, learning in depth about the 2004 Tsunami and seeing with my own eyes how the community as a whole coped, moved on and started rebuilding and healing, makes me very proud to wear this name.
What would you say your biggest strengths are, and what’s the thing you need to work on the most?
I’m becoming pretty well-rounded. Muay Thai and BJJ are the forms of MMA that I’ve trained the most so those are probably the two things where I have the most skill. Before my last fight I worked relentlessly on my wrestling with top wrestling coach Matthew Miller. I learned a lot by that and my wrestling improved immensely. These days I’m focussing on my boxing, polishing my movements, punching power and timing.
You train at Mjölnir MMA, what is it like to train there and how are you enjoying the new gym?
Ever since I started training with Mjölnir it has been my second home. My teammates and coaches are like a second family to me. We have been through a lot together and we are always there for each other. We train hard and we push each other and we make each other better. There’s a real sense of brotherhood / sisterhood within the club. Then the new gym … it is simply incredible. I do not think greater MMA training facilities exist anywhere else in the world.
You’ve trained with some big names like Gunnar Nelson and Conor McGregor and recently had Joanne Calderwood with you on your fight camp, what is like to have such a high level of training partners?
Having those elite fighters around elevates the level of everyone in the gym. John Kavanagh, Conor McGregor, Paddy Hoolohan and many other of the Irish fighters have made a huge difference to my evolution as a fighter. Belonging to such a solid club which welcomes fighters from all over the world is a great privilege. You never know who pops up for training. Travelling and exploring new gyms and training partners is something I embrace and I try to grab every opportunity to see the world and train with good fighters. I frequently train with Gunni of course and I’ve trained quite a lot with Jo Jo in the past. She came to Iceland in 2015 and trained with us, I went over to Montréal last year to train with her before her fight with Valerie Letourneu and then she joined my camp before my last fight. Me and her have become very good friends and as training partners we fit perfectly. Training with her has made a huge difference to me. Having someone who pushes you this hard, has her level of intensity and her level of skill is a awesome. Can’t wait to train with her again.
You won the flyweight gold medal at the 2015 IMMAF European Open and the UFC recently announced they are introducing a flyweight division. Are you considering entering The Ultimate Fighter?
I keep a positive mindset about all opportunities life throws at me. If the opportunity to join TUF arose I would definitely consider that but that said I love it at Invicta FC.
You are the first professional female MMA fighter from Iceland, is there any other Icelandic fighters we should look out for in the future?
There are so many that have huge potential that I cannot really single one out. In Mjölnir we have a large competition team and every single fighter in it is good enough to fight at a high level. We are unbeaten as a team so far this year, 9 wins and no losses. That should say a little about the talent in our team. Then there are other combat sports clubs in Iceland as well and plenty of good fighters there as well. It’s looking like 2017 is the year of the Vikings.
Your currently signed with Invcita FC and are 2 – 0 as a professional MMA fighter, whats next for you?
My third fight. I’m aiming to be on the Invicta #24 card in July. I intend to fight four times this year and my ambition is that when the year is up I’ll be in title contention in the Invicta straw-weight belt.
And finally, will you be at UFC Glasgow supporting Gunnar and Joanne?
I’d sincerely like to and if I’m not in camp for my next fight when that time comes I’ll most likely jump over. I’ve only once before followed Gunni to the UFC battlefield so it’d be awesome to do it again. Having Jo Jo in beast mode, fighting on her home turf, is also bound to be amazing and I’d love to be there to see it happen.
MMA fan from Glasgow, Scotland.