Gunnar Nelson might be the most understated athlete on the UFC roster.
While his quiet demeanor might lend one to thinking he’s not a threat, all you need to look at is his comeback fight at UFC 231. Fighting someone with the polar opposite personality in Alex Oliveira, Nelson reminded the welterweight division what he could when he sunk in a rear naked choke in the second round of the fight.
In yet another surprise, Nelson appeared in a wrestling singlet in a remake of the “Call on Me” music video from artist Eric Prydz. Ever unassuming, Nelson just went with the flow when the idea was presented to him. It’s not the first time he and his team at Mjolnir have done something like this either, having spoofed Justin Bieber and Sia music videos in the past.
“I don't know who exactly decides (the video), but I think it's just like my sister is one of them, and a few people from the gym, they kind of take care of the fun stuff you know,” Nelson said. “But then I basically got told what to wear and where to be at what time, so I did.”
Gunnar Nelson: Top 5 Finishes
Gunnar Nelson: Top 5 Finishes
Although his outfit required a double-take to understand that it was indeed Nelson in the video, he doesn’t think it was all that bad. In fact, he says he wears basically the same thing when training, and he enjoys anything that keeps the mood light at the gym.
“Did you see the people on video? So I got off pretty well I thought,” he said. “I like that. I like these things. They're fun. It's all the staff in the club, and it keeps a good mood and keeps everyone close when we do stuff like that and I know it's completely ridiculous but it's fun.”
But as he prepares for Leon Edwards, Nelson has been his all-business approaching fight night. We talked to Nelson about what his win at UFC 231 meant to him as well as how he’ll handle fighting in enemy territory.
UFC: In Toronto, what did that fight mean for you in that it was your comeback fight?
Gunnar Nelson: It's super important that when you come back from a defeat you need to bounce back, especially when it's been a long time like that. That was also part of it. It'd been like 17 months or something since I fought. To come back after 17 months and just lose, it would have been bad. And the way the fight went was also, it was a big win for me.
UFC: Do you think you reminded the division about what you can do? Do you think about that at all?
GN: I'm sure I did. I'm sure I did, but to be honest, I don't really think about too much of what other people are thinking. I just mind my my own stuff. I mind my own training. I'm not comparing myself too much to others nor am I thinking about what they're thinking. I'm just doing my own thing, and I'm doing this for me, and my team.
UFC: Talking about your matchup with Leon Edwards, what do you see in him that makes him a tough fighter?
GN: He's a smart fighter. He's a calculated fighter, it seems. He's technical, pretty well-rounded. But as always, we will find a way to defeat him and to defeat his kind of movement. We'll get, of course, a better idea of it when we get in there, as I always do. I like to go in there and get a feel for my opponent's energy, but like always, I go in there and I try to find a way to finish to fight.
UFC: Does it matter to you that you'll be playing the villain because Leon is the hometown fighter?
GN: I don't mind. I've always loved fighting in London. This time of course, I'm fighting a guy from here, so I don't know exactly how the crowd's gonna be, but that's part of the sport. You just take it as you go, and you just gotta enjoy it and embrace it.
Zac Pacleb is a writer and producer for UFC.com. You can follow him on Twitter @ZacPacleb
Gunnar Nelson, Volkan Oezdemir, Marc Diakiese, & Nad Narimani