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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Farah Hannoun

Bo Nickal on Khamzat Chimaev: ‘Everybody thinks he’s untouchable, and I know he’s not’

Bo Nickal thinks he can beat Khamzat Chimaev at his own game.

It’s a bold statement from Nickal (3-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who only has three professional fights to his name. But the former NCAA Division I standout wrestler believes all his experience on the mat plays a factor when he competes.

Nickal, who’s had to cut weight countless times during his wrestling days, took aim at Chimaev for missing weight by 7.5 pounds at UFC 279 by questioning his work ethic.

“First off, this dude talks about he’s ready to go always, he’s a gangster, this and that – bro, you can’t even beat the scale,” Nickal said on “The MMA Hour.” “What are you doing? This is just a dude that has no accountability, who doesn’t treat the sport professionally. That makes me way less nervous to fight him in the future, because we’re going to fight, and I know that he’s not committed like I am. He’s not willing to do the things that I’m willing to do. Yeah, he’s talented. Yeah, he has skills. But if that’s how you approach the sport, if that’s how you treat it, we’re on different levels.

“People will act like I’m talking crazy, because I say I’m ready to go. Chimaev, let’s get it. But the reality is this dude won three national titles in Sweden and then came into MMA and has 10 fights. I’ve been competing since I was 5. I had 120-plus NCAA wrestling matches. I won a U-23 world championship. I’m coming with 10 times the experience you have. So when people say, ‘You’re not ready, stay in your lane,’ y’all don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. So you’ll see what happens once we get in the cage.”

Chimaev (12-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) has blasted through his competition so far in the octagon. Outside of his barnburner with Gilbert Burns at UFC 273, the undefeated star has mauled the likes of Li Jingliang and most recently Kevin Holland.

But Nickal believes stylistically he can dominate Chimaev the same way Chimaev has been handling everyone else.

“I don’t really see too many people that can deal with his pressure and that are going to be able to take him out,” Nickal said. “I’m the guy. I’m excited for that opportunity, because everybody thinks he’s untouchable, and I know he’s not.”

He continued, “What’s he going to do to me? Is he going to take me down? No. Is he’s going to submit me? No. Does he have a chance to knock me out? I guess, yeah, there’s a chance to knock me out. But reality, more than likely what will happen, is I’m going to drag him down to the ground, do exactly what he does to all these strikers, and I’m going to do it to him, because I’m a real grappler. I come from real wrestling. The exact thing that he’s doing to guys like Kevin Holland and Li (Jingliang), that’s what I’m going to do to him.”

Nickal, who makes his promotional debut against Jamie Pickett at UFC 282, doubts the promotion puts that fight together soon but is confident it happens in the future.

“When that fight gets announced and he signs on the dotted line, he’s going to have eight weeks to train, but it’s already going to be too late,” Nickal said. “Because I’ve been training since I was 5, and I’m ready for this.”

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