UFC newcomer Bo Nickal is under no illusion about the kind of mixed martial arts skillset that he’ll need in order to reach his ambitions inside the cage.
Nickal, a three-time NCAA Division I National Champion and three-time Big Ten Conference champion out of Pennsylvania State University, secured his place on the UFC’s middleweight roster with a pair of dominant displays on this year’s edition of Dana White’s Contender Series.
After impressing in August by quickly dispatching Zachary Borrego, “The Allen Assassin” closed out the season with his second outing under the DWCS banner. In an even shorter night, Nickal submitted Donovan Beard in under a minute.
Ever since breaking onto the scene with his professional debut under the iKON FC banner, Nickal hasn’t been shy about expressing his confidence in achieving the goals he’s laid out for his MMA career.
As well as suggesting that he could dethrone reigning middleweight king Israel Adesanya, the 26-year-old even claimed that he’d be more than willing to meet undefeated welterweight contender Khamzat Chimaev inside the Octagon.
But while that confidence perhaps derives from his stand-out wrestling pedigree, Nickal isn’t overestimating how far that facet of his game can take him in the sport.
Nickal: ‘Wrestling Won’t Be Enough’
During his appearance at the post-fight press conference following DWCS 56 in September, Nickal discussed his current skillset and the evolution that is required in the coming months and years.
After reiterating the belief he has in his grappling talents, the Colorado native noted that his strong wrestling base won’t be exclusively enough to forge the success he’s targeting inside the cage.
“I’m always gonna have a better wrestling base than anybody I fight,” Nickal said. “But that’s not gonna be enough to be a UFC champ and the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world, which is my goal, so I gotta continue to sharpen my wrestling and sharpen all my other skills that I need to get there, and I’m extremely confident that I will when the time is right.”
Fans will have to wait a little bit longer to see Bo Nickal display his wrestling or MMA versatility, as his official debut with the UFC remains without a date after his original bout with Jamie Pickett scheduled for UFC 282 was cancelled.
Still, the next time Nickal does step foot in the Octagon, don’t be surprised if he showcases much more than his accredited wrestling skills.
How high do you think Bo Nickal’s ceiling is in the UFC?