Hall Of Fame
For every A-side there’s a B-side, and John Conner is not only okay with being the B-side to Bo Nickal, he’s been calling for it for over a year.
Ikon FC matchmaker Dean Toole adamantly claims matchmaking for Bo Nickal has been one of the hardest tasks of his life. Nickal’s reputation in amateur MMA and NCAA wrestling have almost completely dried up the middleweight well on the regional level.
After grinding for weeks to try and find matchups in the amateur ranks, Toole had little faith Nickal’s jump to pro would be any easier until John Conner took the microphone at Island Fights 66.
Conner called out Nickal in the ring and hasn’t let up since. Whether it’s social media, interviews or to matchmakers, he’s sick of his June 3rd opponent’s reputation and he’s on a mission to douse his hype.
“I have over 30 fights total between boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts,” Conner said. “I’ve fought nothing but the toughest people and I’ve never been stopped. If I was stopped it was because of a cut, but I will never stop coming at someone. I’m never afraid to fight a three-time NCAA champion because that’s just very intriguing to me. I enjoy going against somebody with such a skill gap. I’m no wrestler, but that doesn’t deter me at all. I’m completely devoted to this fight and I hope that he’s completely focused on it, too, and that he’s not taking me lightly because if he does he’s going to have a really long night.”
A matchmaker’s nightmare with fights like these is that a blue chip prospect books a fight with a fighter looking to make a name for himself and the closer the fight gets, the less confident his opponent feels before finally dropping out of the fight altogether.
Conner vehemently rejects that possibility.
“I’ve fought damn near anyone and everyone,” Conner said. “I’m not going to pull out of a fight. I’d have to break something. I’ve fought with food poisoning, I’ve fought with hurt knees, it doesn’t really matter. It has to be very serious.”
Conner takes a hefty amount of pride in his durability. For anybody who thinks Nickal is going to make quick work of him is in for a rude awakening if Conner’s night goes according to plan.
What is cause for alarm is that Conner’s confidence appears to be misplaced. In all of his call outs and social media posts, Conner isn’t boasting weapons that Nickal isn’t ready for; he’s simply guaranteeing he won’t be finished.
Is Conner even walking into the cage to win?
For the first time in his career he is.
“That’s kind of been my moniker my entire career, but this fight I am very focused on winning,” Conner said. “The last few years I didn’t have a real fight team or a coach that had fighters. I took a lot of these fights with no training camp and no sparring partners or gameplan, but for this fight I have that. I have a really good support team and a really good gameplan. I’m coming to this fight to win.”
Conner isn’t taking a delusional approach to this fight. Between Nickal’s ground game and strength, Conner knows he’s getting taken down, but the work he’s doing with his BJJ coach is set up to make it hard for Nickal to keep him down when he does land the takedown.
Knowing Nickal’s wrestle-heavy gameplan actually serves as a positive, and if Conner can keep Nickal in the deep waters he’ll willingly put himself in, he just may pull off the UFC FIGHT PASS Upset of the Year.
“All the pressure is going to be on him. There’s nothing on me,” Conner said. “If Bo Nickal tries to finish me in the first round, he’s going to gas out and I’m still going to be there, and that’s when the real fight’s going to happen. If this fight goes to the ground, he may get submitted because I’m no slouch there.”
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