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A general view inside UFC APEX prior to Dana White's Contender Series season 5, week 9 on October 26, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Dana White's Contender Series

Bo Nickal: "I Know Where I'm Headed"

Nickal's Confidence Is Derived From The Things He Picked Up On The Mat That Will Translate Into The Octagon On Dana White's Contender Series

Bo Nickal was able to parlay his victorious professional debut into a DWCS berth with (somehow) even more eyes on him than ever before. Of course, there are new haters, as well, but Nickal shrugs them off with a smile.

Nickal went into his amateur debut with naysayers chanting, “Wrestling is different than BJJ, he should stay off the ground.” He went on to win by way of submission. His next fight, they said, “He’s good on the ground but he can’t strike.” He won by first-round KO. His professional debut, they said his opponent wasn’t worthy, but now at Dana White’s Contender Series it’ll be hard to deny the three-time National champion. Nickal knows that that won’t stop some from still trying, however.

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“I’ve read some of it and heard different people saying different things, but I don’t really care,” Nickal said. “They can say whatever they want; it doesn’t really affect me at all. I know who I am as a person, I know my character, my values, things that are important to me.”

Nickal won’t deny at all that there’s still work to do. In fact, he’s enjoying all the improvements and adjustments he’s been making. After almost flawlessly mastering his previous craft, it’s hard to imagine somebody having as much fun starting from scratch as Nickal is.

He’s only a couple years away from being Bo Nickal the fighter instead of Bo Nickal the wrestler, and he’s fine with that as long as people don’t forget the fits he can give you in the clinch.


Bo Nickal battles Oliver Taza during the UFC Fight Pass Invitational 2 grappling event at UFC APEX

Bo Nickal battles Oliver Taza during the UFC Fight Pass Invitational 2 grappling event at UFC APEX on July 03, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Nickal recently made headlines after IFW media day, where the Hodge Trophy winner would tell MMA media that no UFC middleweight has 10% of the wrestling he has. Most people held their tongue or agreed with the statement, but the haters demanded he walk the statement back and Nickal will do just that but it might not be the correction they were after.

“I think I exaggerated a little bit when I said most guys only have 10% of the wrestling I have,” Nickal said. “I think I gave them too much credit, they probably only have around 1%. All these guys can say whatever they want; I know where I’m headed, I know my trajectory.

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Nickal has always been a star in the world of NCAA wrestling, but it’s a world that has never been too keen on stars being vocal. What is about to come from Nickal’s blossoming personality?

No words have merit until you’ve walked the walk in professional sports, and Nickal knows that, so for anybody thinking that all he’s done is mouth off at IFW and knock out a 36-year-old, the Nittany Lion truly hopes you have a favorite middleweight because nobody is safe.

“I’m going to say what the truth is and if people think it’s me trash talking, ok, cool,” Nickal said. “I watch more film than anybody, I study more than anybody, I’m training harder than anybody, and I’m going to take care of me. Of course, people are always going to have something to say, but I know my trajectory, I know where I’m headed in a couple years.”

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