Bo Nickal ‘laughing’ at the grappling in Alex Pereira vs. Israel Adesanya: ‘That’s a great matchup for me’


Bo Nickal may not have made his UFC debut, but he still likes his chances against the two top middleweights in the world, UFC champ Alex Pereira and ex-champ Israel Adesanya.

” I’m not going say “*” easy fight because [Pereira] can be dangerous. But as far as styles go, that’s a great matchup for me,” Nickal said Wednesday on The MMA Hour.

“I’ve watched their fight a couple times and the grappling, you know — the striking exchanges are super impressive, that goes without saying. They’re absolutely elite strikers. But when they get ahold of each other, it’s just almost funny. It’s almost like I am laughing at their movements and how they do things. And maybe they feel that way about me when I’m hitting pads and hitting the bag and stuff. It just feels like if they grabbed me, I wouldn’t be able to get a hold of them. And I think everybody knows that, so that’s not something that’s a shocking statement or that’s pretty outlandish, in my opinion.”

Nickal, 27, is one of the most highly-touted prospects in all of combat sports. The American ranks among the most decorated NCAA wrestlers of all-time, a three-time Division I champion. In his short MMA career, he has been unstoppable, winning three of his three first professional bouts in under three minutes. The last two were on UFC’s Contenders Series .. Nickal has been hailed by many as the future champion of UFC.

He is still in the early stages of his UFC journey. Nickal is currently slated to make his octagon debut against Jamie Pickett on March 4 at UFC 285.

Pickett, of course, is a far cry from Pereira and Adesanya, both of whom are unanimously ranked as the top 185-pound fighters in the world, with a host of highlight-reel wins over top competition shared between them. However, Nickal is confident about his chances against any man and that’s despite having more cage experience.

“I think that the more that I experience MMA, the more experience I get in sparring and things like that, you just understand the range a little better, you understand when you’re in danger. And the reality is, whenever I’m fighting a guy who’s a striker, they have all the anxiety. I have none,” Nickal said. They have to catch me in the act, which can be incredibly hard to do. Or walk me down, hoping I don’t fall as they go. It’s like I have the edge in terms of the pace and distance.

“In reality, I’m not going to sit here and stand in front of you in a 50-50 situation and let you kick me in the head. You’re either in or out. And I know I have good enough cardio and good enough pace that I can do that for 25 minutes if I need to, on top of the fact that once I do grab you and get ahold you, you’re going to be gassed out, you’re going to be done. And that’s just if you survive, and if you don’t get strangled or don’t get beat up too badly and the ref stops it.

“So, in my opinion, there’s going to be that danger of like, hey, I lean in and lean the wrong way and get hit. However, I have less chance of it happening .”


Despite his confidence, Nickal noted that he’s not actually in a rush to be fast-tracked to the top of the UFC middleweight division. He wants to take his time and approach his career the right way, and he knows that putting in the hard work and continuing to improve and develop is the most important goal on his docket this early into his MMA run.

That being said, if the UFC wants to strap him to a rocket ship straight to contention after UFC 285, he’s confident he’ll be ready to handle whatever challenges get thrown his way.

“It’s not crazy at all. I feel like there’s absolutely a path,” Nickal said. It’s a path that I feel is possible for me to see in two different ways. One, there’s an easy path to the title where I could fight three or four times and get there. My goal is not to win the title and be done.

” I want to be the greatest pound-for-pound boxer on earth. So if it means I have to face other men with strong grappling styles or similar, that is okay. My goal is not to take the best of what I have done and use it to my advantage and climb the ranks.

” I will always take advantage of it, but I want my game to be complete and I to be able to beat any player on the planet. Every day I work to improve all aspects of my game. With that being said, every single time I go into a fight, we’re wrestling. And that’s always going to be something that I’m taking advantage of.”