Bo Nickal has big aspirations for his MMA career.
The three-time NCAA Division I champion wrestler was a big hit with the crowds for his impressive performance in professional MMA. After going 2-0 as an amateur, Nickal needed just 33 seconds to score a highlight-reel knockout over John Noland on Friday night at IKON FC 3, and he didn’t even use a single takedown to do it.
At age 26, Nickal is just getting started in MMA. But he already has goals of dominating the sport in the same way he dominated wrestling in the collegiate ranks.
” I’m determined to become the No. 1 pound-for-pound-fighter in the world. So that’s what I want to do, that’s what I’m here here to do, and that’s what I’m going to accomplish in the next five years,” Nickal said Monday on The MMA Hour.
“That’s where I will be, without a doubt, within half a decade. I have no doubt. I think that it’s a long path. There’s a lot of things that can happen in five years. That’s a long time, especially in the MMA world. While I am not ignorant or oblivious to the fact that I do not believe in the MMA, it is not my fault. These are my realistic goals. It’s not something I say to myself, such as “Oh, I want to become world champion” or similar. Like, that’s something that I’ve thought long and hard about — not only what I want to do, but the timeline behind it too. And I feel like that’s a feasible accomplishment for me.
“Considering the amount that I put into this sport, the amount of energy that I put into my training and how disciplined I am, and again, having the right people around me, I think that’s absolutely doable,” Nickal added, “and I know for a fact that I will do that.”
Nickal has a great start. The Pennsylvania State University alum rocked Noland with a blistering sequence on Friday night that began with a hard right hand and ended with a three-punch combination that sent Noland plummeting to the canvas.
Nickal’s MMA wrestling skills made him one the most sought-after prospects heading into this fight. But few expected him to be as easy on the feet as he was.
” I’m looking for finish every fight. Jon Jones was a man that I believe had many finishes, especially in the beginning of his career,” Nickal stated. He was also a man of many talents. Although my achievements in wrestling were better than his, he quit wrestling at a young age. I stopped wrestling at 25. He stopped wrestling at what, 20? It was something like that. So I think he could’ve been that type of athlete in wrestling had he stuck with it too.
“So I see myself emulating a lot of his attacks, of his styles. Both of us are tall, strong, and explosive. He was always out finishing other dudes with strikes, kicks and knees. That’s how I view myself. To be the No. 1 pound-for-pound that I want to be, I can’t go out there and take a dude down and hold them down for five minutes. Like, I’ve got to smash every single guy I fight. So the guys that did that are the guys that I’m trying to emulate that style.”
Of course, Nickal is just scratching the surface of his potential. He’s spent much of the last year learning the ropes of MMA under the tutelage of the minds at ATT, and he’s honest in his assessment of where his striking is now compared to where he eventually wants it to be.
“Relative to my wrestling, it’s like a zero,” Nickal admitted. “And relative to where I think it’s going to be in two, three, four years — it might as well be a zero. I’ve been training, again, less than a year, 10 months, and I’ve made a lot of developments. Although I don’t pretend to be a top-notch striker, I do know exactly where I will end up in the next few years. It’s amazing how much energy I have put into it. I think no one can match my level of effort. Every day I feel like I am gaining on everyone
Nikal said he’s received interest from several major MMA organizations in the days since his pro debut went viral. Although he isn’t certain when he will return to the cage, he hopes to get more experience before 2022 ends.
“I don’t have a date yet, but my management team and I are working on it,” Nickal said. “I want to get as many fights as possible by the end of the year. After this fight, I wasn’t sure I’d get so much attention. They were like, “Yo, what we can do to get the dude experience and get him fights. We’ll make it happen.” I thought that we would still be stuck in slow play mode. So we will have to solve this problem ourselves.
“[So] It’s August. It will be a couple weeks before I’m able to fight in September .”