Arguably one of the most difficult men in the world to submit is the stoic Icelandic warrior that is Gunnar Nelson. Known for his high level ground game and striking based off of linear motion, he is a very difficult fighter to prepare for. Unlike the standard asses from open guard one might commonly see from a fighter in MMA, Nelson has a diverse skill set when it comes to the ground. Not one to just attack the traditional passes like a knee slide, one can expect to see a pressure game consisting of knee sides, pressure attacks, one which he utilises brilliantly is the Toreando pass, he mixes this with his pressure style from a stacked position, clearing the legs to gain side control or knee on belly position before rotating the leg inwards and gaining mount position.
Gunnar has grappled with the likes of Jeff Monson, Andre Galvao, Vinny Magalhaes and Xande Ribeiro with only the latter being able to submit him. Within 3 years of training Gunnar was already at the position to finish fourth at the ADCC. Gunnar Nelson was badly outgrappled by Demian Maia at UFC 194, there’s absolutely zero shame in this however as Demian Maia has proven himself as the greatest grappler in MMA history, not arguably, because Maia is the clear greatest grappler, to dispute this would be ridiculous. With 76% of Gunnar’s MMA victories coming by way of submission, with 76.9% of his submission coming by way of a neck attack (Rear Naked Choke, Guillotine or Neck Crank), he is not a man to take lightly on the ground.
With his upcoming opponent Leon Edwards having never been submitted it makes for an interesting match, however it should be noted that Edwards has never faced anyone close to Gunnar Nelson in terms of grappling ability, the way Gunnar strikes makes it difficult to see his level change coming, this could be problematic for Edwards, although he will be preparing for this, it is a totally different thing having a teammate replicate the grappling of Gunnar Nelson and actually being at the level in which Gunnar mounts his grappling offence and pressure game.
Although Gunnar is regarded as an excellent grappler, I don’t think many people comprehend just how elite he is at grappling, he fully deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence for grappling ability amongst some of the very best in the world.