Former Penn State wrestler Bo Nickal has been vocal about his planned transition into the world of MMA, and he doesn’t expect to travel too far to get things started.
On The Luke Thomas Show on SiriusXM, Nickal revealed where his path will begin.
“My plan right now is to start a gym in State College, Pennsylvania, and partner with American Top Team,” Nickal said.
The three-time NCAA champion and Hodge Trophy winner believes that bringing a gym of ATT’s caliber to Penn State will benefit more than just his transition to the sport.
“We’re going to have an American Top Team up here in State College and be able to access all the resources of ATT,” Nickal said, “and at the same time be able to bring Penn State wrestling [closer] to the MMA world and elevate the level of wrestling in MMA and get a lot of athletes and guys that come out of Penn State and other wrestling programs, give them the opportunity to train here and give other guys that maybe didn’t train wrestling growing up, don’t have a wrestling background, the opportunity to get the best wrestling training in the world.”
Of course, the plan will have a big impact on Nickal himself.
“I’m super excited to stay in State College,” Nickal said, “stay close to my friends and family and team and coaches and continue to keep improving, getting better and making a lot of waves in the MMA community and the MMA world.”
The announcement is the latest step toward the sport for Nickal. On Monday, First Round Management CEO Malki Kawa announced that Nickal had signed with his management company.
Nickal told ESPN in April that his MMA transition will take place after he finishes his business in wrestling.
“The plan is to do the Olympics in 2020,” Nickal said. “Then start fighting.”
Current Penn State heavyweight wrestler Anthony Cassar also hopes to make the same transition.
“I grew up watching Fedor Emelianenko and Vitor Belfort as a kid,” Cassar told ESPN. “It’s one of my goals, and I’m going to immerse myself in it someday.”
Cassar is currently in his final year of eligibility at Penn State.
The wrestlers would be following in the footsteps of fighters such as current Bellator athletes Phil Davis and Ed Ruth as well as current BRAVE CF featherweight champion Bubba Jenkins, all of whom made the change to MMA after successful careers as Penn State wrestlers.
Shane Connelly is a journalism student at Penn State with a passion for sharing the stories of MMA fighters.