Bo Nickal: College Success to MMA Hype
Wrestling leading into MMA is not a new concept. From Daniel Cormier and Henry Cejudo earning Olympic medals to Kamaru Usman being a DII collegiate champion, wrestling success is a proven catalyst to MMA success. While many may consider one of the aforementioned Olympians as having the greatest wrestling acumen entering MMA, there is no debate that Bo Nickal has by far and away the greatest collegiate resume – American folkstyle compared to the Olympic freestyle – to have ever competed in the UFC, and this is the direct causal reason why there is significant hype for what he can do within his professional fight tenure.
In college, Bo Nickal competed for Penn State under renowned head coach, Cael Sanderson. Learning under a coach who was 159-0 in college and is considered one of, if not the best college wrestler to have ever competed, Bo Nickal went on to be a 4-time All-American, 3-time National Champion, and have a combined record of 135-5 while being 61-0 over his final two seasons at Penn State. These accolades cannot go understated, particularly knowing Penn State is in the most difficult wrestling conference there is – the Big Ten – coupled with the fact that one mishap against the elite-level competition that he faced can result in an unexpected loss. But Bo did not let that happen once he established himself as one of the top wrestlers in the country, ultimately earning the Dan Hodge Trophy his senior season distinguishing him as the nation’s best collegiate wrestler.
- Bo Nickal makes his UFC debut this Saturday, March 4.
- Order UFC 285 now on ESPN+ PPV to watch every fight live this weekend.
Knowing Bo’s wrestling is unmatched, an intelligent MMA fan would immediately state that there is more to the sport than wrestling alone. Understanding this, Bo, being the extremely pragmatic and disciplined athlete that he is, took time to find proper coaching, learn the dynamics of MMA, and begin his training, all of which took place at the renowned American Top Team gym. This team is headed by well-respected coach, Mike Brown, and the gym is known for being one of the largest and well-versed in all of MMA, a vital feature for someone of Bo’s level to be around given the multitude of differing opponents he has access to in order to learn and get better.
Being the elite athlete he is with world-class skills in wrestling, Bo took very quickly to MMA. In his first fight on a smaller circuit, he won by KO in the first round, a first-round submission victory for his second professional fight taking place on DWCS, and another first-round KO victory for his third professional fight on DWCS, earning him a contract to fight in the organization.
While having just three professional fights may seem incredibly small, the fact that Bo has 140 D1 wrestling bouts and has competed in Olympic-caliber tournaments as well gives him what is likely far more experience than many fighters on the roster. Moreover, as he has stated himself, he has, over four years in college, competed in arenas filled with thousands of fans, both in the Big 10 Championships as well as the NCAA Championships, which gives him the advantage of dealing with the pressure and executing when the stage is at its biggest.
Because of the elite athlete that he is, the immense one-to-one competition experience he has, and most importantly, the world-class wrestler that he is, it all makes Bo the top prospect in all of MMA.
Bo Nickal makes his UFC debut on the UFC 285 main card this Saturday, March 4. Order the event now on ESPN+ PPV to watch every fight live this weekend.