Bo Nickal expects to become a UFC champion one day, but he’s yet to actually make his debut after signing a four-fight deal with the promotion following his Contender Series run.
That’s why the three-time NCAA champion wrestler can’t help but be amused to see so many established veterans talking about him of late.
Darren Till complimented Nickal as a prospect while adding that he would like that fight one day in the future so he could “drive the left hand through the skull.” Middleweight contender Chris Curtis said he wasn’t all that impressed by Nickal because he was set up in “mismatched fights,” while adding that he’s not really interested in fighting him right now nor should the UFC try to set that up because there are “a lot safer fights to make” for him.
Those were just a few examples, but Nickal took it all in stride and even laughed when responding to the all the fighters who have been name-dropping him lately.
“I just think it’s hilarious,” Nickal said. “Why are you all calling me out? It’s wild stuff. I’m not calling out high-school wrestlers for wrestling matches. That’s kind of what the equivalent is.
“They’re all worried about me, but it’s all good. Your time will come when I decide it. It doesn’t really matter what you think or say. I make the calls. If I want to fight you, I’ll fight you.”
There’s little doubt that Nickal might just be one of the most talented blue-chip prospects to ever transition into mixed martial arts from another combat sport, but he also has a lot to learn before he’s truly considered an elite fighter.
As he continues to develop those skills, Nickal knows he’ll only get that much more dangerous, so perhaps some of the UFC veterans mentioning a potential fight against him are trying to catch him early before he’s fully evolved.
“Yeah, probably [that’s why they’re calling me out].” Nickal said. “It just doesn’t really matter either way. It’s not going well for them.”
Nickal says nothing is set in stone yet because no contracts have been signed, but a fight with Pickett is the direction the UFC appears to be heading.
As of now, the promotion hasn’t made any official announcements of any kind regarding UFC 282, although there have been plenty of rumors about the fights that will fill that card, including a potential light heavyweight title fight rematch between Jiri Prochazka and Glover Teixeira.
While he won’t be the main event, Nickal is fully confident that the UFC will parlay the star power he started building on Contender Series by giving him a marquee spot on the final pay-per-view card of the year.
“I am not a prelim guy,” Nickal said with a laugh. “If I have to fight on the prelims, I’ll just retire. I’m done.
“I don’t know if it’s in the contract [that I have to fight on the main card], but they’ll do the right thing. They’ll do the smart thing. If I’m on the prelims, I’ll retire. I’m out.”
The UFC has put ranked fighters and more established stars on the preliminary broadcast in the past to boost interest in an event and hopefully lead viewers to then purchase the pay-per-view. Nickal understands that could be a possibility, although he doesn’t expect the UFC to want him anywhere but the main card.
“I’ve seen a bigger fight on the prelims and stuff but I don’t know,” Nickal said. “I’m a main card guy. It doesn’t make sense. It’s Dana White’s Contender Series but I’m main-eventing Dana White’s Contender Series at 2-0. Every fight I’m in is a main event. They’re putting me on the main card.”
Wherever the fight takes place, Nickal expects it to ultimately serve as a launching pad to a very busy year ahead after already fighting three times in 2022.
“Probably four [fights in the next year],” Nickal said. “I think I’m in the top 10, and by the middle of 2024, fighting for the belt.”