Erik Paulson

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Erik Paulson
Born (1966-06-28) June 28, 1966 (age 56)
Minnesota, United States
ResidenceFullerton, California, United States
Teacher(s)Yorinaga Nakamura, Rigan Machado, Rickson Gracie, Dan Inosanto, Tim Tackett, Ajarn Chai Sirisute, Rob Kaman
RankA-Class Shootist
  Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do
  Black Belt in Judo
  6th Degree Black Belt Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Rigan Machado
Years active1993–2007
Mixed martial arts record
By knockout2
By submission8
By decision1
By knockout2
By submission1
By decision1
Other information
Notable studentsSean Sherk, Ken Shamrock, Josh Barnett, Brock Lesnar, Cub Swanson
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog

Erik Paulson (born June 28, 1966) is an American mixed martial artist. He is the first American to win the World Light-Heavy Weight Shooto Title in Japan.[1]


Erik started his career in martial arts starting with Judo at age of 8. However, he got disillusioned after failing to use it in self-defense, when a bully blocked his hip throw by pulling his hair and forced Erik to strike him in order to win. Convinced that striking arts were the best to defend himself, he took up Taekwondo, Boxing, Karate, Aikido, Wrestling, and Jujutsu.[2] Many years after, he moved to California and became a student under Dan Inosanto, Gene Lebell, and Benny Urquidez, learning styles like Kickboxing, Jeet Kune Do, Savate, Arnis/Kali/Eskrima, Kung Fu, Sambo, Muay Thai, Chin Na, Dumog, Panantukan, and Silat.[1] In 1988, however, Paulson returned to explore grappling when he started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Rorion, Royce and Rickson Gracie in his garage.[3] Upon returning to Inosanto's academy, he met Yorinaga Nakamura, who taught him Shoot Wrestling. Paulson also trained extensively in Catch Wrestling under Billy Robinson. Paulson got hooked with the style, and through Nakamura he got in touch with Satoru Sayama in order to fight in Shooto. In 1993, Erik had his first fight there, submitting Kazuhiro Kusayanagi. He also asked to compete in Ultimate Fighting Championship, but the Gracies refused as Royce was already going to compete there, so Paulson ended up cornering him instead.[1]

Later, in 1995, Paulson took part in an MMA tournament similar to UFC, World Combat Championships, which divided its participants in "strikers" and "grapplers" in order to pit them against each other in the finals. Again, a Gracie participated in the event, Renzo, but this time Paulson got the green light to take part in the tournament. Unfortunately, Paulson was put into the striker block, in which rules prohibited submission finishes, and it took away Erik's best field. Moreover, his long hair played against him, as he couldn't cut it due to his role as a film stuntman. His first match, against Muay Thai exponent Sean McCully, evidenced both disadvantages, with Paulson having to endure hair pulling and a significant punishment in order to finish him by ground and pound. At the second round, he faced Kickboxing champion James Warring, heavier and better rested, and this time Paulson's hair weakness took dramatic proportions; Warring grabbed the cage in order to avoid being taken down and literally dragged Paulson around the cage by the hair, making his corner throw the towel. After returning to the Gracie academy, Rickson expelled him without explanation and forbade him to train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu again, but Paulson simply moved to train it with the Machado brothers.[1]

Paulson still competed in Shooto, being sent as a representative to the Vale Tudo Japan event, where he was submitted in 0:41 by Canadian grappler Carlos Newton. He retired shortly after, focusing in teaching as opposed to fighting, though he came out of retirement in October 2007 to headline the first HDNET MMA fight card. Paulson took on Jeff Ford in the main event of the night. Paulson made quick work of Ford, winning by spinning armbar in the opening minutes of the first round.

Erik is the founder of Combat Submission Wrestling, and STX Kickboxing. He runs the CSW Training Center in Fullerton, California, where he trains MMA fighters such as Josh Barnett, Ken Shamrock, Renato Sobral, Cub Swanson, and James Wilks. He is closely affiliated with Sean Sherk and Brock Lesnar of the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy. As well, Paulson was the striking coach for Team Lesnar on The Ultimate Fighter: Season 13, and he is the coauthor of a book along with American Combat Association president Matthew Granahan and JD Dwyer on the History of American Submission Wrestling.[4] He also has a younger brother, Leif Paulson, who is an up-and-coming grappler in his own right.

He wrestled for Inoki Genome Federation in 2008.

Erik played Kumite fighter Stellio in Bloodsport III, where his character faced Alex Cardo played by Daniel Bernhardt. He trained Djimon Hounsou in Shoot Wrestling for his role of Mixed Martial Arts instructor Jean Roqua in the 2008 action drama Never Back Down.[5]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Mixed martial arts record[edit]

Professional record breakdown
17 matches 11 wins 4 losses
By knockout 2 2
By submission 8 1
By decision 1 1
Draws 2
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Win 11–4–2 Jeff Ford Submission (armbar) HDNF 1: HD Net Fights October 13, 2007 1 1:44 Dallas, Texas, United States
Win 10–4–2 Ronald Jhun Decision (unanimous) SB 17: SuperBrawl 17 April 15, 2000 3 5:00 Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Win 9–4–2 Masanori Suda TKO (punches) Shooto: Las Grandes Viajes 5 August 29, 1998 3 4:48 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 8–4–2 Carlos Newton Submission (armbar) VTJ 1997: Vale Tudo Japan 1997 November 29, 1997 1 0:41 Urayasu, Japan
Loss 8–3–3 Paul Jones Decision (majority) Shooto: Reconquista 3 August 27, 1997 3 5:00 Tokyo, Japan
Draw 8–2–2 Paul Jones Draw EF 4: Extreme Fighting 4 March 28, 1997 3 5:00 Des Moines, Iowa, United States
Win 8–2–1 Stuart Harrison Submission (armbar) Shooto: Reconquista 1 January 18, 1997 2 2:28 Tokyo, Japan Defended the Shooto Light Heavyweight Championship.
Loss 7–2–1 Matt Hume TKO (cut) EF 3: Extreme Fighting 3 October 18, 1996 3 0:44 Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
Win 7–1–1 Kenji Kawaguchi Submission (toe hold) Shooto: Vale Tudo Junction 3 May 7, 1996 3 1:23 Tokyo, Japan Won the Shooto Light Heavyweight Championship.
Win 6–1–1 Todd Bjornethun Submission (guillotine choke) Shooto: Vale Tudo Junction 1 January 20, 1996 2 0:26 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 5–1–1 James Warring TKO (corner stoppage) WCC 1: First Strike October 17, 1995 1 16:08 Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
Win 5–0–1 Sean McCully TKO (submission to strikes) WCC 1: First Strike October 17, 1995 1 5:17 Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
Win 4–0–1 Yasunori Okuda Technical submission (keylock) Shooto: Vale Tudo Perception September 26, 1995 1 0:44 Tokyo, Japan
Win 3–0–1 Ben Spijkers Submission (guillotine choke) Shooto: Complete Vale Tudo Access July 29, 1995 5 0:38 Saitama, Japan
Win 2–0–1 Kenji Kawaguchi Technical submission (armbar) Shooto: Vale Tudo Access 2 November 7, 1994 2 1:03 Tokyo, Japan
Draw 1–0–1 Naoki Sakurada Draw Shooto: Shooto November 25, 1993 5 3:00 Tokyo, Japan
Win 1–0 Kazuhiro Kusayanagi Submission (triangle choke) Shooto: Shooto June 24, 1993 3 1:46 Tokyo, Japan

Submission grappling record[edit]

Result Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Notes
Loss Brazil Xande Ribeiro Points ADCC 2003 –99 kg 2003

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "MMA Origins: Erik Paulson, Shooto's Forgotten Champion". February 10, 2013. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  2. ^ "Erik Paulson Interview". Global Training Network. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  3. ^ "Erik The Great | FIGHT! Magazine – Archives". June 24, 1993. Archived from the original on December 21, 2014. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  4. ^ "Book: Rough & Tumble – Now In Stock — CSW Association". Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  5. ^ ""Never Back Down Webisode with Erik Paulson". YouTube. February 12, 2008. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021. Retrieved January 11, 2019.

External links[edit]