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Bo Nickal has arguably succeeded Khamzat Chimaev as MMA’s newest rising star
Now that he is six fights into his UFC career and standing on the verge of a welterweight title shot, it is fair to say that Khamzat Chimaev can no longer be considered a ‘prospect’ within the ranks of the world’s largest mixed martial arts organization – and the man who has arguably replaced him as the sport’s next big thing, standout US grappler Bo Nickal, says he is on a collision course with the Chechen-born star.
Three-time NCAA Division I US national champion Nickal earned his passage to the UFC roster with yet another dominant showing on ‘Dana White’s Contender Series’ a week ago, taking just 52 seconds to smother the challenge of the previously 7-1 Donovan Beard to underline his stellar combat sports reputation.
And the collegiate wrestling superstar wasted little time in calling his shots after earning his contract, by immediately calling for a fight with Chimaev.
“If the UFC wishes, give me that Swedish dude,” said Nickal of the Swedish-based Chimaev following his win against Beard.
“He might not even be the best guy, because he can’t even make weight, but if that’s the case, I’ll take him.”
In his first appearance, @NoBickal got the finish in just over a minute – what do you think he does in tonight’s season finale?
— UFC (@ufc) September 27, 2022
— UFC (@ufc) September 28, 2022
UFC President Dana White quickly pulled the brakes on that talk in the post-fight presser, and later confirmed that Nickal’s official UFC debut will come in December against the unheralded Jamie Pickett – but speaking to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour on Monday, Nickal doubled down on his rivalry with Chimaev.
His first verbal shot? Chimaev’s troubles on the weighing scales on the eve of his ill-fated fight with Nate Diaz.
“I just think, first off, this dude talks about he’s ready to go always, he’s a gangster, this and that – bro, you can’t even beat the scale,” Nickal said.
“What are you doing? This is just a dude that has no accountability and doesn’t treat the sport professionally. That makes me way less nervous to fight him in the future, because we’re going to fight. I know he’s not committed like I am. He’s not willing to do the things that I’m willing to do.
“Yeah, he’s talented. Yeah, he has skills. But if that’s how you approach the sport, if that’s how you treat it, we’re on different levels. People will act like I’m talking crazy because I say I’m ready to go – Chimaev, let’s get it – but reality is this dude won three national titles in Sweden and then came into MMA and has 10 fights.
“I’ve been competing since I was 5 [years old]. I had 120–plus NCAA wrestling matches. I won a U23 world championship. I’m coming with 10 times the experience you have. So when people say, ‘You’re not ready, stay in your lane’ – y’all don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, so you’ll see what happens once we get in the cage.”
— UFC (@ufc) September 28, 2022
Chimaev even noted Nickal’s warning on social media, replying: “Who is that boy?” to a UFC Instagram post hailing Nickal’s one–sided win last week.
But Nickal says that he is sure that Chimaev is more than aware of the potential challenge awaiting him.
“He knows exactly who I am,” Nickal said. “The only reason he says stuff is because he doesn’t want that fight. He’s going to try and act like he doesn’t know me, this and that. You’ll get to know me. Because at the end of the day, I’m going to keep winning, hopefully you’ll keep winning, and we’ll match up. I’m down. Let’s get it.
“I don’t really see too many people that can deal with his pressure and that are going to be able to take him out. I’m the guy. I’m excited for that opportunity because everybody thinks he’s untouchable and I know he’s not.”
And when that day comes, Nickal says that Chimaev is in for a rude awakening. All that dominance in previous fights, he says, will amount to nothing when he shares a cage with a wrestler considered by many to be the most talented on the entire UFC roster.
“When that fight gets announced and he signs on the dotted line, he’s going to have eight weeks to train but it’s already going to be too late,” Nickal warned.
“Because I’ve been training since I was five and I’m ready for this.”