The UFC middleweight division is full of elite fighters such as Israel Adesanya, Robert Whittaker and Alex Pereira. Although they all have a very comprehensive skill set, none are elite wrestlers. But, the inclusion of Bo Nickal means the division has a dominant grappler in it. Nickal’s first two fights in the Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) had some fans calling him a future champion.
Recently, Bo Nickal spoke with former cfu middleweight champion Michael Bisping. During their conversation, Bo explained why most forwards have a hard time making a good impression against a wrestler. According to Bo, most MMA fighters focus more on the striking aspect of the game rather than learning how to improve their wrestling.
“Yeah, you know, I think that’s in line with what you’re saying. You know, I think initially you probably know people who have high-level wrestling training, get into mixed martial arts and think, “Oh, I need to like to somehow improve my boxing or my striking in general just to become more well balanced. And I think doing that takes you away from wrestling training every day. At the end of the day, when you fight, you’re going to do what you train.” said the wrestler.
Bo Nickal is perhaps the best amateur wrestling prodigy to fight in the UFC. He is a three-time NCAA Division 1 National Champion representing Penn State. In 2019, he won the US National Championship and the Under-23 World Championship. In his 3 MMA fights so far, Bo has finished all of his opponents. In his last fight in September, Nickal submitted Donovan Beard by triangular choke.
Bo Nickal reveals the reason for his elite wrestling skills
During the interview, Bo Nickal took issue with how most MMA gyms operate. The 26-year-old said he had the opportunity to practice his drills with some of the best wrestlers in the business. However, not all gyms have the level of grapplers at their disposal that Bo has. As a result, he has one of the best ground games in the promotion despite not having a single fight on the UFC main roster.
“I think most guys don’t wrestle every day, most guys don’t have high level wrestling. They don’t like their partners (Me). I’m still at Penn State, building a gym here. So I fight with the best guys in the world, every day. Not just the best guys in MMA, the best competitive wrestlers in the world. And most gyms and MMA venues don’t have access to that stuff. So they mostly practice hitting and I think that’s what stands out a bit in fights.
Bo Nickal is certainly correct in his statement. Most current UFC champions like Islam MakhachevAljamain Sterling, Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko are amazing grapplers
On top of that, fighters like Shavkat Rakhmonov, Khamzat Chimaev, and Umar Nurmagomedov dominate their opponents based on their wrestling. Even Khabib Nurmagomedov, who went undefeated in his career, was a wrestler.
The strikers love Leon Edwards and Israel Adesanya are certainly entertaining to watch. But someone like Islam Makhachev is a nightmare for anyone because of his fight. Therefore, regions like Dagestan dominate the MMA landscape due to their focus on wrestling.
Although Bo was scheduled to fight Jamie Pickett at UFC 282, his debut was postponed due to injury. He will most likely make his UFC main roster debut in early 2023. Although veterans like Henry Cejudo believe he will immediately become the championit will be interesting to see if the UFC books him against a ranked fighter or not.