Gunnar Nelson in 2018
|Born||28 July 1988|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (180 cm)|
|Weight||170 lb (77 kg; 12 st 2 lb)|
|Reach||72 in (183 cm)|
|Style||Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Gōjū-ryū Karate, Submission Wrestling|
|Fighting out of||Reykjavík, Iceland|
|Rank||Black belt in Gōjū-ryū Karate |
2nd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Renzo Gracie
|Mixed martial arts record|
|Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog|
|World Jiu-Jitsu Championship (Gi)|
|Pan American Championship (Gi)|
|Pan American Championship (No-Gi)|
Gunnar Nelson (born 28 July 1988) is an Icelandic professional mixed martial artist, currently competing in the Welterweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which was awarded by Renzo Gracie after impressive results at the 2009 IBJJF Pan-Ams and the 2009 ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship. Gunnar is a teammate of UFC fighter and former Featherweight and Lightweight Champion Conor McGregor, and is a member of Mjölnir gym in Iceland, and SBG Ireland.
Nelson was born on 28 July 1988, in Akureyri in the north side of Iceland but has lived in Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland, almost all his life from early childhood. He played football and ice hockey in his childhood years. At the age of 13, he started training in Gōjū-ryū Karate and won the Icelandic Juvenile Kumite Championship title in 2003, and again in 2004 and 2005. He took home medals in every karate tournament he participated in from 2003 to 2005. In 2005, he was chosen as Iceland's most promising up-and-coming karate talent of that year, when he was just 16. However, he gave up karate to train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and grappling at age 17. Gunnar's father, Haraldur Dean Nelson (aka Halli Nelson), is of Anglo-American and Icelandic descent. He is also Gunnar's manager. Gunnar's mother, Guðrún Hulda Gunnarsdóttir Nelson, is Icelandic. Gunnar has one sibling, a sister named María Dögg Nelson, born in 1992 in Reykjavík.
Gunnar began grappling in 2006, receiving his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) blue belt from Matt Thornton of Straight Blast Gym International. From the age of 17, he continued his tutelage primarily under John Kavanagh, one of Thornton's students. Gunnar first met Kavanagh during one of his BJJ seminars at Mjolnir, and the SBG Ireland owner would remain his head coach until this day. By 2008, Gunnar had already progressed far enough for Kavanagh to award him his brown belt, but with Kavanagh not being a black belt for more than six years at the time, he was unable to award Gunnar his own black belt under IBJJF rules. Gunnar subsequently spent a period at Renzo Gracie Academy in New York to advance rank to black belt. Shortly after his arrival, he had competed for their team in various competitions, winning a silver medal in the 2009 Mundials brown belt category. He also won gold at the 2009 Pan American Championship (Gi), along with gold and silver (open class) in the 2009 Pan American Championship (No-Gi). At the 2009 ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship, Gunnar took 4th place in the absolute category where he defeated the much heavier and touted BJJ Black Belts Jeff Monson and David Avellan. Gracie had already seen enough, and awarded him his black belt after less than a year with his academy. In 2011, Gunnar was again offered a place in the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship and had a good run (though not bringing home any medals), defeating the then present and twofold European Champion and multiple Finnish champion Marko Helen and the Brazilian and American champion and former World Champion Bruno Frazzato.
Today, Gunnar is an instructor in his home club Mjolnir. He spends his time between there, SBG Ireland, Renzo Gracie Academy, and also SBG Mainline in Manchester.  He uses his BJJ as his primary method of offence in MMA.
Mixed martial arts career
Gunnar won five more fights in the 16 months following his debut, in Ireland, the United Kingdom and Denmark, before taking a break from the sport for almost two years. He returned at BAMMA 2: Roundhouses at the Roundhouse in February 2010 and defeated opponent Sam Elsdon via submission in the first round. He secured another first round victory in his next fight against Danny Mitchell at Cage Contender 6 in Manchester, England before returning to BAMMA later that year. His next appearance was at BAMMA 4: Reid vs. Watson in September 2010 where he faced previously unbeaten British prospect Eugene Fadiora and won by submission in the first round. In February 2012, Gunnar returned to MMA with a first round armbar submission win over Ukrainian fighter Alexander Butenko at Cage Contender 12 in Dublin Ireland. In late 2012 Gunnar signed a multi-fight agreement with the UFC.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
Gunnar was expected to make his promotional debut against Pascal Krauss on September 29, 2012 at UFC on Fuel TV: Struve vs. Miocic. However, Krauss was forced out of the bout with an injury (Rich Attonito was shortly linked to fighting Gunnar but he had weight concerns and also pulled out) and Gunnar was expected to face DaMarques Johnson at a catchweight bout of 175 lb, but his opponent could not make the required weight. The fight was contested at 183 lbs (Gunnar weighed in at 175 lbs). Gunnar submitted Johnson via rear-naked choke at the 3:34 mark of the first round.
Gunnar was expected to face Justin Edwards on February 16, 2013 at UFC on Fuel TV: Barão vs. McDonald. However, Edwards was forced to pull out of the bout citing an injury, and was replaced by returning veteran Jorge Santiago. Gunnar won the fight by unanimous decision (29–28, 29–28, and 30–27).
A year later Gunnar returned to the UFC and faced Omari Akhmedov on March 8, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 37. Gunnar won the fight via submission in the first round. The win also earned him his first Performance of the Night bonus award.
Gunnar was expected to face Ryan LaFlare on July 19, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 46. LaFlare suffered an injury and was replaced by Zak Cummings. Gunnar won the fight via second round rear-naked choke. The victory secured his second Performance of the Night bonus award.
Gunnar was expected to face John Hathaway on July 11, 2015 at UFC 189. However, Hathaway pulled out of the bout on June 23 citing injury, and was replaced by Brandon Thatch. Gunnar won the fight by submission due to a rear naked choke in round one after dropping Thatch with a left-right hand combo.
Gunnar was briefly linked to a fight with Demian Maia on October 24, 2015 at UFC Fight Night 76, but the bout did not materialize for that event as Maia was sidelined with a staph infection on his left leg. The bout eventually took place on December 12, 2015 at UFC 194. Gunnar lost the one-sided fight via unanimous decision.
Gunnar was expected to face Dong Hyun Kim on November 19, 2016 at UFC Fight Night 99. However, on October 21, it was announced that Gunnar had pulled out due to an injury and the fight was off. Kim was rescheduled to face Tarec Saffiedine on December 30, 2016 at UFC 207.
Gunnar faced Alan Jouban on March 18, 2017 at UFC Fight Night 107. After rocking Jouban with a punch, Gunnar secured a guillotine choke to win by submission in the second round. He was awarded a Performance of the Night bonus.
Gunnar faced Santiago Ponzinibbio on July 16, 2017 at UFC Fight Night 113. He lost the fight by knockout in the first round. At the post-fight press conference, Gunnar claimed that Ponzinibbio poked him in the eye during one of the earlier exchange and caused him see double: "And I really should have said something because I was seeing double for the rest of the fight. He caught me with a shot that I didn’t really see." Ponzinibbio dismissed Nelson's claim and stated, "I went there to knock him out and thank God it went as expected, I won by knockout. If (the eye poke) happened, of course it wasn’t intentional, but I watched the video again and didn’t see it." After the fight, Gunnar appealed his loss, as the referee had failed to stop the fight due to eye pokes under the Unified Rules of MMA; his appeal was denied by UFC.
Nelson was expected to face Thiago Alves on September 28, 2019 at UFC on ESPN+ 18. However, Alves pulled out of the fight in mid-September due to undisclosed injury, and he was replaced by Gilbert Burns. He lost the fight via unanimous decision.
Throughout his career, Nelson has never engaged in extensive weight cutting. His training weight is around 175–176 pounds, necessitating only a 5–6 pound weight cut. He has been a big proponent of instituting strict rules against weight cutting, arguing that the practice is dangerous to the fighters and counterproductive to the UFC, as it leads to fights being cancelled or fought at catch weight.
Wraps and gloves
Nelson fights and spars without wraps on his hands and uses small gloves. He has said that he would fight without any gloves if it were possible. He maintains that minimal wraps and gloves give him a better feel of what he's doing with his hands. Wraps and gloves are intended to protect fighters' hands, but Gunnar notes that he has never broken his hands.
Nelson and his girlfriend Fransiska Bjork Hinriksdóttir have a daughter, who was born on October 31, 2019.
Championships and accomplishments
Mixed martial arts
- Ultimate Fighting Championship
- Nordic MMA Awards - MMAviking.com
- North American Grappling Association
- NAGA Middleweight Champion (One time)
- International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation
- 2009 IBJJF World Jiu-Jitsu Championship Middleweight Brown Belt Gi Silver Medalist
- 2009 IBJJF Pan American Championship Middleweight Brown Belt Gi Gold Medalist
- 2009 IBJJF Pan American Championship Middleweight Black Belt No Gi Gold Medalist
- 2009 IBJJF Pan American Championship Absolute Black Belt No Gi Silver Medalist
Mixed martial arts record
|Professional record breakdown|
|23 matches||17 wins||5 losses|
|Loss||17–5–1||Gilbert Burns||Decision (unanimous)||UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs. Cannonier||28 September 2019||3||5:00||Copenhagen, Denmark|
|Loss||17–4–1||Leon Edwards||Decision (split)||UFC Fight Night: Till vs. Masvidal||16 March 2019||3||5:00||London, England|
|Win||17–3–1||Alex Oliveira||Submission (rear-naked choke)||UFC 231||8 December 2018||2||4:17||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Loss||16–3–1||Santiago Ponzinibbio||KO (punches)||UFC Fight Night: Nelson vs. Ponzinibbio||16 July 2017||1||1:22||Glasgow, Scotland|
|Win||16–2–1||Alan Jouban||Submission (guillotine choke)||UFC Fight Night: Manuwa vs. Anderson||18 March 2017||2||0:46||London, England||Performance of the Night.|
|Win||15–2–1||Albert Tumenov||Submission (neck crank)||UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs. Arlovski||8 May 2016||2||3:15||Rotterdam, Netherlands||Performance of the Night.|
|Loss||14–2–1||Demian Maia||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 194||12 December 2015||3||5:00||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Win||14–1–1||Brandon Thatch||Submission (rear-naked choke)||UFC 189||11 July 2015||1||2:54||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Loss||13–1–1||Rick Story||Decision (split)||UFC Fight Night: Nelson vs. Story||4 October 2014||5||5:00||Stockholm, Sweden|
|Win||13–0–1||Zak Cummings||Submission (rear-naked choke)||UFC Fight Night: McGregor vs. Brandao||19 July 2014||2||4:48||Dublin, Ireland||Performance of the Night.|
|Win||12–0–1||Omari Akhmedov||Submission (guillotine choke)||UFC Fight Night: Gustafsson vs. Manuwa||8 March 2014||1||4:36||London, England||Performance of the Night.|
|Win||11–0–1||Jorge Santiago||Decision (unanimous)||UFC on Fuel TV: Barão vs. McDonald||16 February 2013||3||5:00||London, England|
|Win||10–0–1||DaMarques Johnson||Submission (rear-naked choke)||UFC on Fuel TV: Struve vs. Miocic||29 September 2012||1||3:34||Nottingham, England||Catchweight (175 lbs) bout; Johnson missed weight (183 lbs).|
|Win||9–0–1||Alexander Butenko||Submission (armbar)||Cage Contender XII||25 February 2012||1||4:21||Dublin, Ireland|
|Win||8–0–1||Eugene Fadiora||Submission (neck crank)||BAMMA 4||25 September 2010||1||3:51||Birmingham, England|
|Win||7–0–1||Danny Mitchell||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Cage Contender VI||28 August 2010||1||2:51||Manchester, England|
|Win||6–0–1||Sam Elsdon||Submission (rear-naked choke)||BAMMA 2||13 February 2010||1||2:30||London, England|
|Win||5–0–1||Iran Mascarenhas||KO (punch)||Adrenaline 3: Evolution||6 September 2008||2||3:22||Copenhagen, Denmark|
|Win||4–0–1||Barry Mairs||TKO (punches)||Angrrr Management 14: Ready for War||9 December 2007||1||3:38||London, England|
|Win||3–0–1||Niek Tromp||TKO (punches)||Cage of Truth 1: Battle on the Bay||24 November 2007||1||1:50||Dublin, Ireland|
|Win||2–0–1||Adam Slawinski||TKO (punches)||Ultimate Fighting Revolution 10||6 October 2007||1||2:30||Galway, Ireland|
|Win||1–0–1||Driss El Bakara||Submission (armbar)||Cage Rage Contenders: Dynamite||29 September 2007||1||3:46||Dublin, Ireland|
|Draw||0–0–1||John Olesen||Draw (split)||Adrenaline Sports tournament||5 May 2007||3||5:00||Copenhagen, Denmark|
|14 Matches, 8 Wins (4 Submissions), 6 Losses (1 Submission)|
|Loss||8-6||Alexandre Ribeiro||Points||ADCC World Championship||Absolute||September 25, 2011||Nottingham|
|Loss||7-5||André Galvão||Points||-88kg||September 24, 2011|
|Win||6-4||Bjarni Kristjánsson||Submission (guillotine choke)||Mjolnir Open||Absolute||September 3, 2011||Reykjavík|
|Win||5-4||Brynjólfur Ingvarsson||Submission (armbar)|
|Win||4-4||Mike Russell||Submission (rear naked choke)||Health & Fitness Expo||Superfight||November 20, 2010||Reykjavík|
|Loss||3-4||Azunna Anyanwu||Points||Grapplers Quest: Beast of the East||Absolute||March 20, 2010||Caldwell, NJ|
|Loss||2-3||Vinny Magalhães||Points||ADCC World Championship||Absolute||September 27, 2009||Barcelona|
|Loss||2-2||Alexandre Ribeiro||Submission (kneebar)|
|Win||2-1||David Avellan||Submission (rear naked choke)|
|Loss||0-1||James Brasco||Referee Decision||-88kg||September 26, 2009|
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- "Fight Card - UFC 189 Mendes vs. McGregor". UFC.com. Retrieved July 17, 2015.
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- Daniel Schälander (January 6, 2019). "Photos: An Inside look at Mjölnir". mmaviking.com.
- https://web.archive.org/web/20090907150208/http://www.ibjjf.org/results/2009mundial.htm. Archived from the original on September 7, 2009. Retrieved October 1, 2009. Missing or empty
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- https://web.archive.org/web/20091007081847/http://www.ibjjf.org/results/2009pannogi.htm. Archived from the original on October 7, 2009. Retrieved October 6, 2009. Missing or empty
- https://web.archive.org/web/20100314114037/http://www.nelson.is/record.html. Archived from the original on March 14, 2010. Retrieved October 1, 2009. Missing or empty
- Mjölnir gym
- "Odinsbud - MMA fightwear - Mjolnir - Iceland". Óðinsbúð.
- "MMA Fighters". SBG Ireland.
- https://web.archive.org/web/20120227134602/http://nelson.is/about.html. Archived from the original on February 27, 2012. Retrieved March 16, 2012. Missing or empty
- Hughes, Jake. "Fightland Talks To: Gunnar Nelson and Conor McGregor's Coach". Fightland Blog. Vice.com. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
- "GUNNAR AWARDED A BROWN BELT IN BJJ". Gunnar Nelson Official. June 2008.
- Absolute bronze « GRACIEMAG at the ADCC Archived 2010-01-18 at the Wayback Machine. Graciemagbarcelona2009.wordpress.com (2009-09-27). Retrieved on 2012-02-26.
-  Archived October 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- https://web.archive.org/web/20120227135106/http://nelson.is/index.html. Archived from the original on February 27, 2012. Retrieved March 16, 2012. Missing or empty
- https://web.archive.org/web/20101001094953/http://www.bamma.net/index.php/schedule/event-results/bamma-4.html. Archived from the original on October 1, 2010. Retrieved September 30, 2010. Missing or empty
- "Renzo Gracie Black Belt Gunnar Nelson Signs with the UFC". Cdn.mmaweekly.com. Retrieved 2016-02-24.
- Martin, Damon (2012-07-08). "Renzo Gracie Black Belt Gunnar Nelson signs with UFC". MMAWeekly.com. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
- "Pascal Krauss vs Gunnar Nelson added to UFC on Fuel TV 5 in Nottingham". mmajunkie.com. July 9, 2012. Archived from the original on October 6, 2012.
- Staff (2012-09-18). "Debuting Gunnar Nelson Now Draws DaMarques Johnson at UFC on Fuel TV 5". MMAWeekly.com. Retrieved 2012-09-18.
- Staff (2012-09-28). "UFC on FUEL TV 5 weigh-in results: Miocic (239) and Struve (251) on weight (updated)". MMAjunkie.com. Archived from the original on 2012-09-30. Retrieved 2012-09-28.
- Stupp, Dann (2012-09-29). "UFC on FUEL TV 5 results: Gunnar Nelson chokes out DaMarques Johnson in first round". MMAjunkie.com. Archived from the original on 2012-10-02. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
- "Gunnar Nelson vs. Justin Edwards added to UFC on FUEL TV 7 in London". mmajunkie.com. December 13, 2012. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
- Staff (January 23, 2013). "Justin Edwards out, Jorge Santiago in against Gunnar Nelson at UFC on FUEL TV 7". mmajunkie.com.
- "UFC on Fuel TV 7 Results: Gunnar Nelson Remains Undefeated with Commanding Performance". Cdn.mmaweekly.com. Retrieved 2016-02-24.
- John Morgan (February 28, 2013). "Gunnar Nelson meets Mike Pyle at May's UFC 160 in Las Vegas". MMAjunkie.com.
- Staff (April 10, 2013). "Rick Story replaces Gunnar Nelson, meets Mike Pyle at UFC 160". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
- Dann Stupp (December 10, 2013). "UFC European Tour in London adds Gunnar Nelson-Omari Akhmedov". MMAjunkie.com.
- John Morgan (2014-03-08). "UFC Fight Night 37 bonuses: Alexander Gustafsson earns dual awards". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2014-03-08.
- Staff (2014-04-29). "Gunnar Nelson mætir ósigruðum Bandaríkjamanni í Dyflinni". visir.is. Retrieved 2014-04-29.
- @YourMMA. "LaFlare Injured, Nelson Gets New Opponent For UFC Dublin". YourMMA.tv. Archived from the original on 2014-05-28. Retrieved 2014-05-28.
- Matt Erickson (2014-07-19). "UFC Fight Night 46 bonuses: McGregor, Nelson, Pendred, King win $50,000". MMAjunkie.com. Retrieved 2014-07-19.
- Matt Erickson (2014-08-07). "Gunnar Nelson vs. Rick Story set for UFC Fight Night 53 main event in Stockholm". MMAjunkie.com. Retrieved 2014-08-07.
- Damon Martin (2014-10-04). "Rick Story upsets undefeated prospect Gunnar Nelson in Sweden". msn.foxsports.com. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
- Tristen Crichfield (2015-04-01). "UFC 189 Update: Gunnar Nelson-John Hathaway welterweight bout set for July 17". sherdog.com. Retrieved 2015-04-01.
- Matt Erickson (2015-06-23). "Brandon Thatch meets Gunnar Nelson at UFC 189, John Howard now gets Cathal Pendred". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2015-06-23.
- Brent Brookhouse (2015-07-11). "UFC 189 results: Gunnar Nelson drops, then chokes out Brandon Thatch in first". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2015-07-11.
- Chuck Mindenhall (2015-08-13). "Demian Maia suffers nasty staph infection on his leg, prevents him from fighting Gunnar Nelson". mmafighting.com.
- Staff (2015-09-04). "Yet another UFC 194 biggie: Demian Maia vs. Gunnar Nelson". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2015-09-04.
- Matt Erickson (2015-12-12). "UFC 194 results: Demian Maia dominates Gunnar Nelson, calls for 170 title shot". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- Staff (2016-03-01). "Albert Tumenov vs. Gunnar Nelson added to UFC Fight Night 87 in Rotterdam". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
- Steven Marrocco (2016-05-08). "UFC Fight Night 87 results: Gunnar Nelson gets tap, becomes first to finish Albert Tumenov". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2016-05-09.
- Tristen Critchfield (2016-05-08). "UFC Rotterdam bonuses: Overeem, Struve, Nelson, de Randamie pocket $50K". sherdog.com. Retrieved 2016-05-08.
- Ariel Helwani (2016-08-24). "Gunnar Nelson vs. Dong Hyun Kim slated for UFC's return to Northern Ireland". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
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- MMA Fighting Newswire (2017-02-13). "Gunnar Nelson faces Alan Jouban at UFC Fight Night 107 in London". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2017-02-13.
- Steven Marrocco (2017-03-18). "UFC Fight Night 107 results: Gunnar Nelson on point, chokes out Alan Jouban in second". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2017-03-18.
- Tristen Critchfield (2017-03-18). "UFC Fight Night 107 bonuses: Manuwa, Nelson, Vera, Diakiese receive $50K checks". sherdog.com. Retrieved 2017-03-18.
- Marc Raimondi (2017-05-12). "Gunnar Nelson vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio to headline UFC Fight Night 113". mmafighting. Retrieved 2017-05-12.
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- Mercado, Eddie (2018-12-08). "UFC 231 results: Gunnar Nelson scores bloody submission on Alex Oliveira". Bloody Elbow. Retrieved 2018-12-09.
- Brett Okamoto (2019-01-16). "Darren Till, Jorge Masvidal to meet in main event of UFC Fight Night". espn. Retrieved 2019-01-16.
- "UFC London results: Leon Edwards survives late charge to take split over Gunnar Nelson". MMA Junkie. 2019-03-16. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
- Staff (2018-06-26). "Thiago Alves vs. Gunnar Nelson booked for UFC on ESPN+ 18 in Copenhagen". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2019-06-26.
- John Morgan (2019-09-12). "Thiago Alves out at UFC on ESPN+ 18, Gunnar Nelson needs new opponent". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2019-09-12.
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- O'Leary, Ryan. "Halli Nelson Calls for 'Change in Mindset' and Elimination of Extreme Weight Cuts". www.mmaviking.com. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
- "Gunnar Nelson believes weight cutting should be eliminated in MMA | FOX Sports". FOX Sports. 2016-05-06. Retrieved 2017-01-25.
- "Gunnar Nelson Doesn't Wrap His Hands Before Fights, Likes to 'Get the Feel' | MMAWeekly.com". www.mmaweekly.com. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
- Gunnar Nelson [@GunniNelson] (31 Oct 2019). "Our baby is born, everyone is healthy and happy im very proud you Fransiska Bjork how u handled this for the first time and delivered us a healthy beautiful babygirl in a few hours. ❤❤" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "MMAViking.com's Yearly Nordic Awards". mmaviking.com.
- "Gunnar "Gunni" Nelson MMA Stats, Pictures, News, Videos, Biography". Sherdog.com. 1988-07-28. Retrieved 2016-02-24.