LAS VEGAS – There are first public drafts, and then there are people who love them LeBron JamesPeyton Manning and Sidney Crosby. They are the greats among the greats, men who are not only superstars but alter fortunes of the franchise and the city that lands them.
“Dana White’s competition series” has essentially turned into the UFC draft, and on Tuesday, in the finale of season six, it looks like the UFC may have stopped the next James, Manning or Crosby.
Bo Nikal So talented, so confident, and so impressive, that after finishing Donovan Bird in just 52 seconds with Triangle Throttle Tuesday at Apex finally earn a UFC contract, He casually called Khamzat Shemayev.
This is what great people do, because they believe in themselves completely.
Of course, White dropped that idea in his post-fight press conference, but if Nikal turns out to be what he looks like, it won’t be long before a fight of this caliber is actually made.
James was one of the NBA’s best players before his rookie season was two months old. The same was also true of men like Manning and Crosby.
Nickal gives every indication that he will not only be a pick of your garden type from the first round, but an influential performer of this caliber.
White did not give Nickal a contract when he won his first Contender Series fight at 1:02 of the first round in the opening week of Season Six, but he brought it back again. Obviously, he was vindicated by Nikal’s performance, but also surprised by him.
“Oh my God,” White said. “Unbelievable, man. The child is incredible. It looks great. Obviously, this was a huge step up in the competition. Someone fought 7-1, hit an advantage, an altitude advantage. The child’s self-confidence is incredible. His game is amazingly good. Yes, it was impressive.”
Nickal was the 2019 Penn State Hodge Trophy winner after a collegiate wrestling career in which he won three NCAA Championships and was an All-American four times. He made the world’s toughest sport seem easy, winning three MMA fights in 33, 62 and 52 seconds, respectively.
He comes from a very athletic family, so he has the genes that can help him go a long way in this sport. His grandfather and father were wrestling coaches, his father played football in college and his mother not only played basketball in college but also played some amateur boxing. They were all on board quickly when he said he wanted to fight, and it proved to be a smart choice.
White said he would pass it on as he would any other possibility even though Nikal is not like any other possibility. He’s a guy who’s going to be making a buzz at the highest level pretty soon.
“Everyone close to me knows what I can do and knows what I can do, but when the time comes, more and more people will continue to join the bandwagon,” Nikal said. “It’s about developing, improving and honing all my skills.
“I will always have a better wrestling base than anyone I fight. But at the end of the day, it won’t be enough to become the UFC Champion and the number one fighter in the world, and that is my goal. So I need to sharpen my wrestlers and all my other skills.”
His other skills were shown on Tuesday right from the start. There was a joke among the reporters at Octagonside about how quickly Nikal could shoot for takedown. Instead, he dropped the beard with a left strike and rolled into his back to be able to slap the fight-ending triangle choke.
On a night of great performances – Matthews Mendonca looked amazing and he, Rafael Estivam, Jack Jenkins and Sam Patterson all had contracts – Nikal stood head and shoulders above the rest. And no, he wasn’t joking about confronting Shemayev.
“I feel like this is a good rivalry,” Nikal said of Chemayev. “He is clearly a top-level wrestler and a top-level fighter. He is one of the best fighters not only in the division, but also in the UFC. I have a lot of respect for his skills, but I also know what I am.”
What he seems to be about is being one of the most talented fighters in the company’s history. He should turn that potential into performance, obviously, but he’s off to a good start at this point.
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