LAS VEGAS — Prepare yourselves for some Bo Nickal hype.
Nickal, a three-time NCAA Division I national collegiate wrestling champion, starched another opponent on Dana White’s Contender Series on Tuesday night, submitting Donovan Beard with a triangle choke just 52 seconds into their middleweight bout.
It was Nickal’s second win on the Contender Series in two months, and it earned him an exclusive contract to fight in the UFC less than two years into his transition from amateur wrestling into MMA.
“I literally write notes to remind me [of the fights],” White said after Nickal’s performance. “The only note on my paper is, ‘god damn.’ I mean, for a kid who has almost no experience, he took on a guy who’s 6-foot-2, a 7-1 [record], 78-inch reach — the confidence this kid had to roll into the triangle the way he did. …
“Me and a lot of other people are excited to see the future this kid has. Welcome to the UFC.”
Nickal (3-0) is arguably the hottest prospect in MMA, thanks to his wrestling pedigree and the early work he has done under coach Mike Brown at American Top Team. He finished Zack Borrego via rear-naked choke in just 62 seconds in his first Contender Series appearance on Sept. 27.
“That’s what we do, baby. I was born for this and bred for this,” Nickal said. “I train every day so that I can be the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. I’m barely into my career, but I’m headed straight to the top.”
Nickal dropped Beard (7-2) with an overhand left early in the fight and never looked back. He immediately followed Beard to the floor and moved into full mount. Beard did manage to turn him over and get into top position, but Nickal seamlessly transitioned into a triangle choke for the finish.
“I expected to stand with him for one punch, because I knew I’d drop him,” Nickal said. “I’ve been working on that the whole camp. I know I’ve got power. Nobody can really put up with me, regardless. Wrestling, boxing, jiu-jitsu — as you can see, I’ll take you out anywhere.”
After his win, Nickal called out welterweight contender Khamzat Chimaev and YouTube star Logan Paul for his UFC debut. White indicated the promotion would build Nickal like any other young talented fighter, rather than book him against a top opponent.
“Let’s not get crazy here,” White said regarding Nickal’s callout of Chimaev, who is the UFC’s No. 3-ranked welterweight and coming off a win over Kevin Holland at UFC 279.