Greg Nelson

Academy Head Coach Greg Nelson

Head Coach Greg Nelson

  • Head Trainer of 3 UFC World Champions
  • Pedro Sauer Gracie Jiu-Jitsu 4th Degree Black Belt
  • NCAA D1 Wrestler – U of MN
  • 6th Degree Muay Thai Black Belt [Ajarn]
  • Modern Army Combatives – Level 4
  • Full Instructor – Inosanto Kali & Jun Fan JKD Concepts
  • Advanced Level Student – Shooto

Coach Greg is available for tailor-made Wrestling, MMA, BJJ, & Thai Boxing seminars/workshops world-wide. Please call or email The Academy for details: (763) 560-5696 or – THERE IS LIMITED AVAILABILITY FOR 2020 & 2021 – CONTACT SOON TO SECURE YOUR SEMINAR.

Academy Head Coach Greg Nelson has his roots in athletic training and competition. Mr. Nelson is a former University of Minnesota Wrestling Team member and All-American high school gymnast.  In 1983, he started training in Jun Fan Martial Arts, Filipino Kali and Muay Thai under Sifu Rick Faye.  Since then, he has earned Full Instructor credentials in Jun Fan Martial Arts/Jeet Kune Do Concepts, Filipino Kali, and Level III Instructorship in Maphilindo Silat under the legendary Guru Dan Inosanto.  Coach Nelson is also a Senior Instructor in Muay Thai under Grand Master Surachai “Chai” Sirisute of the Thai Boxing Association of the USA.

A grappler at heart, Greg earned the level of Advanced Student in Shoot0 Wrestling under Sensei Yurinaga Nakamura and of certified Full Instructor in Combat Submission Wrestling (CSW) under Erik Paulson. Beginning his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu journey in 1989 by taking a private lesson with Master Rickson Gracie, Mr. Nelson went on to become a formal student of 8th Degree Red & Black Belt Professor Pedro Sauer in 1996. Greg was the first of Professor Sauer’s students to earn his Black Belt, receiving the honor in November 2002 – he is now a 4th Degree Black Belt and is the highest-ranking Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt in the state of Minnesota.


In addition to his credentials as a coach, Mr. Nelson has put his skills to the test on a competitive level time and time again. After graduating college in 1989, Greg traveled to Thailand to train Muay Thai with some of the world’s best. In 1992, he made the journey again, and it was this trip that gave him the urge to compete. In the summer of 1993, he fought his first Muay Thai fight in Chicago, IL, followed up by an Amateur Shooto (MMA) bout in Los Angeles, CA in 1994. One year later, he competed in Muay Thai again, this time internationally, at an event in Winnipeg, Canada. In 1999, he put on the gi and won a gold medal in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Blue Belt Masters division of the IBJJF Pan-American Championships, winning a silver medal in the Purple Belt Masters division the next year. In 2001, Greg claimed 3 gold medals at the LA Grappling Games.

Head Coach Nelson is well known as one of the best Mixed Martial Arts coaches in the world and is constantly in high demand for seminars and specialized workshops. To assure the highest quality of training for his students, Greg spends much of his time researching and developing new techniques and training methods. Coach Nelson and his team at The Academy have produced numerous World Champions, as well as countless other local, national, and international contenders and medal winners, on both an amateur and professional level, in MMA, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, etc.

Academy fighters have claimed victories within all of the major fight organizations worldwide including the UFC, WEC, Pride Bushido, EliteXC, Strikeforce, SengokuWVR, BodogFIGHT, Shooto, King of the Cage, Super Brawl, Hook-N-Shoot, Prince’s Cup Thailand, Sanshou Championships in Beijing, All-Osaka Shoot Boxing Championships in Japan, among many others. Mr. Nelson and The Academy Team have also developed 3 UFC Champions at 3 different weight classes: Dave Menne – the 1st Middleweight UFC World Champion; Sean Sherk – the 2nd Lightweigh UFC World Champion; and Brock Lesnar – Heavyweight UFC World Champion. Coach Nelson holds an incredibly rare distinction in that he trained them all from the beginning of their fight careers through their title fights!

Greg Nelson UFC Coach


greg nelson bjj

Over the years, Mr. Nelson has taught defensive tactics to a wide variety of law enforcement and military personnel, creating training programs for local, state, and federal law enforcement divisions including the FBI, DEA, and Federal Air Marshals. Currently, Mr. Nelson works extensively with various branches of the U.S. military. In 2010, he coached the Minnesota National Guard Combatives team at the All Army Combatives Tournament in Ft. Benning, GA.  He has assisted in the development of the Army Combatives Field Manual FM 31-25.150 and is a civilian member of the Modern Army Combatives Committee, an organization aimed at improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the program. Additionally, Mr. Nelson is a combatives consultant to classified U.S. Army Special Forces units, the 75th Ranger Battalion, U.S. Army Combatives School Instructors, and the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (SEAL Team 6). He is very proud to be one of the few civilians selected to work with the military and the soldiers that keep our country safe.Greg Nelson UFC Coach

Though his professional pedigree and success in martial arts are staggering, there is nothing Coach Nelson deems more important than being a father to his 2 children, a daughter and a son. A 2-time cancer survivor, Greg has proven himself a fighter outside of martial arts as well. First, he beat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, followed by a second successful battle, surviving a rare form of nerve cancer called neurolymphomatosis.  According to the Mayo Clinic, he was the first known survivor of this cancer, his case becoming instrumental to the development of a treatment for this rare disease.

REMINDER If you are interested in a Wrestling, MMA, BJJ, or Thai Boxing seminar/workshop, please call or email The Academy for details: (763)560-5696 or – We are now booking available dates for 2020 & 2021 – contact soon if you wish to have a seminar at your facility.