Owing to his three-time NCAA wrestling championship background and praises from fighters like Jorge Masvidal as the sport’s potential future, Nickal, a 27-year-old Penn State alum, is held to a higher standard than many of his peers with comparable MMA experience. The towering expectations have taught Nickal to accept that he doesn’t have everyone’s support, which fuels his determination to disprove them.
“It was almost absurd post my last fight when some suggested, ‘He struggled to take Jamie Pickett down, his takedown was resisted.’ I was baffled, ‘I took him down in 20 seconds,’” Nickal chuckled during the UFC 290 media day. “Let’s keep things in perspective.
“There’s a certain bar set for me. I have four wins and four first-round finishes. Some want me to stumble, while others wish to see me triumph. The anticipation surrounding me is massive. I am set to give my best performance, irrespective of whether that culminates in a first-round finish or a decision, the outcome doesn’t really concern me. My focus is to do my best and the rest will follow suit.”
Despite his relatively brief tenure in combat sports, Nickal’s every move, both in and out of the cage, is under intense scrutiny.
He’s among the most discussed fighters on the UFC roster. For the second time in a row, Nickal will be opening a pay-per-view broadcast when he competes at UFC 290, demonstrating the promotion’s substantial investment in him.
Nickal has spent a considerable portion of his athletic career in the spotlight. He’s learned to disregard the critics and concentrate solely on himself, which has paid off with his outstanding performance in both wrestling and MMA.
“Most critics have never fought, trained, or performed in any capacity. They really can’t relate,” Nickal stated. “I hold no judgment against them as they lack the foundational experience to understand the situation. My response is to meet them with kindness and strive to perform my best, hoping to offer some enlightenment along the way.”
Nickal will be facing Val Woodburn, a last-minute replacement, on Saturday after his original opponent, Tresean Gore, suffered an injury just four days prior to UFC 290.
Nickal’s odds to win at UFC 290 have skyrocketed, as he is now a 25-to-1 favorite. Yet, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Woodburn has nothing to lose,” Nickal acknowledged. “This is a golden opportunity for him. Even if he falls, he could be in the UFC post this, so it’s logical for him to accept the fight. Competing against those who have nothing to lose isn’t new to me. I’ve been doing it since childhood.
“Throughout my younger years and college, I faced opponents who felt they had nothing to lose, and they still lost. I enjoy being the favorite and hopefully, I will continue to be so throughout my career.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Bo Nickal’s Career
Who is Bo Nickal?
Bo Nickal is a professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter and three-time NCAA wrestling champion. He made his UFC debut against Jamie Pickett, which he won in under three minutes.
How has Bo Nickal reacted to criticism and high expectations?
Bo Nickal has acknowledged the criticism and high expectations due to his impressive background as a wrestler. He’s learned to accept that not everyone is rooting for him, which only fuels his determination to disprove them. He focuses on his performance, irrespective of the outcome.
What was the controversy after Bo Nickal’s fight with Jamie Pickett?
Despite defeating Jamie Pickett in under three minutes, Nickal faced criticism suggesting he struggled to take Pickett down. In response, Nickal chuckled and highlighted that he achieved a takedown in 20 seconds.
Who is Bo Nickal’s next opponent after Jamie Pickett?
After Jamie Pickett, Nickal is set to face Val Woodburn. Woodburn is a last-minute replacement for the originally planned opponent, Tresean Gore, who suffered an injury just four days prior to UFC 290.
How does Bo Nickal view his status as a favorite in the UFC 290?
Nickal enjoys being the favorite and sees his high odds to win as a reflection of his hard work and past performances. He hopes to continue being the favorite throughout his career.