UFC’s Gunnar Nelson took THREE years to recover from grappling Thor Bjornsson

Icelandic UFC welterweight Gunnar Nelson recently shared that he experienced a painful injury after grappling with Hafthor Bjornsson.

Bjornsson is known for his role as Gregor Clegane or ‘The Mountain’ in the Game of Thrones series. Standing at 6 ft 9 in (206 cm), Bjornsson and Nelson decided to have some fun and make a grappling video together in May. However, things didn’t go as planned, and Nelson heard a “nasty pop” during the match-up.

Bjornsson’s body landed on top of Nelson, and seconds later, the UFC star felt the upper right side of his ribs swelling. Despite the pain, Nelson chose to continue the match and even admitted that the experience was both fun and probably stupid.

As per Nelson’s previous injuries, he suffered a rib injury during his outing against Gilbert Burns in September 2019, which led to his unanimous decision loss. Although he had planned to return to the octagon in January 2020, the injury prevented him from doing so.

Bjornsson also tested himself against Gordon Ryan recently. But unlike Nelson, Ryan weighs over 220lbs and is probably a lot better equipped to handle a rolling session with a giant.

Gunnar Nelson competes at Welterweight – 170lbs. Meaning he was likely rolling with a man close to twice his size.

Speaking to Ariel Helwani, Nelson revealed just how bad his injuries from grappling Bjornsson left him.

“Then, later, I got a probably even worse injury on the other side of my rib. Yeah, f*** it. You’ve probably seen the video of me and The Mountain rolling. This is where it happened actually.”

Thor isn’t aware of the damage that he did and that’s mostly because Nelson’s ego wouldn’t let him admit he was hurt.

“I haven’t spoken to him about it,” Nelson said. “I don’t think he knows but I think this is the first time I’ve spoken about it. It happened there, it was fun, I enjoyed it but I wanted to get an armbar from the bottom.”

“It was my mission because, obviously, it’s a hard thing against somebody like him and he knows a little bit. He knows how to use his weight a bit and he’s 160 kilos of pure muscle.”

“I catch him with an armbar from the top but I want to get it from the bottom and so I try to do that in the second round, he collapses on top of me and I could feel a nasty pop and seconds after I could just feel it swelling up but something in me was like, I’m not going to say anything now, I’m just going to finish the round.”

“It happens again where I get curled up like this and he pulls all his weight and at this stage I’m just having real problems with my arm and breathing and stuff.”

Nelson has competed 13 times in the UFC with five losses, and his coach John Kavanagh has recently pitched him as a potential opponent for Khamzat Chimaev. Regardless, Nelson seems to be eager to get back into the ring and leave the injury in the past.

Gunnar Nelson was forced to nurse injury from 2019 until March of 2022 when he returned with a decision victory over Takashi Sato. He will be competing against Bryan Barbarena at UFC 286 in London this weekend.