Redemption: Second Chances on Dana White’s Contender Series — Bo Nickal

Bo Nickal, Dana White's Contender Series 56
Bo Nickal, Dana White's Contender Series 56 weigh-in Credit: Alex Behunin/Cageside Press

Dana White’s Contender Series began back in 2017. Since then, the Contender Series has produced some big-name upcoming stars like Dan Ige, Sean O’Malley, Geoff Neal, Maycee Barber, and Edmen Shahbazyan. In short, it has been a huge success. A Contender Series fight has stakes like none other, where fighters must showcase their skills to impress the UFC president enough for a contract with the promotional giant.  Holding the Contender Series with a smaller cage inside the UFC Apex venue makes for a tense atmosphere, and with only close friends and family of the competing fighters in attendance as spectators. Emotions always run high, as a limited amount of contracts can be given out on any given night, and many fighters can potentially have their dreams snubbed out solely because of bad luck. In rare cases, however, a fighter gets a second look. This series will examine those.

Bo Nickal (2-0 MMA)

Age: 26 years old

Height: 6’1″ / Reach: 76″

Weight Class: Middleweight (185lbs.)

First DW’s Contender Series Fight: 2022, Week 3

Old DW’s Contender Series Opponent: Zack Borrego (3-1 MMA)

Second DW’s Contender Series Fight: 2022, Week 10

New Opponent: Donovan Beard (7-1 MMA)

First DWCS Fight

Bo Nickal competed in his first Contender Series match-up earlier this season in week three when he completely dismantled his opponent.

Bo’s competitor opened the bout with an ill-advised flying knee and when he landed was swiftly taken off his feet by a blast double leg takedown.

It was all down hill from there for Bo’s opponent as Bo was able to look for some ground and pound.

Bo’s opponent returned to his feet while Nickal threatened a guillotine to force him back to the mat before smoothly transitioning to the back.

Bo was able to squeeze on a rear naked choke and submit his opponent in just over a minute in the first round in an extremely dominant performance. Unfortunately Bo didn’t receive a contract but was invited back to compete on the Contender Series again. In that sense, it’s not a redemption story that Nickal is writing — but it is a second chance.

First Contender Series Opponent

Bo’s first Contender Series opponent, Zack Borrego, entered the bout with an undefeated 3-0 record in pro MMA.

Borrego also had a 3-3 amateur MMA record accumulated between 2020 and 2021.

Borrego has not fought since he faced Bo Nickal nearly two months ago, but he does have a fight scheduled.

Zack is slated to take on 4-0 Lajuan Davis in the co-main event of Fury FC 70 on October 14th.

Bo is so early on in his MMA career that any experience is good experience, and as a result this bout and win has aged fine (even though its almost too fresh to have really aged at all).

The Road Back

Bo’s Contender Series appearances are just 49 days apart and it was announced that he would be brought back for another shot immediately, so Bo has not fought since the first appearance.

Bo’s second DWCS appearance was booked less than a week after his first DWCS appearance. 

Nickal created a huge buzz with his dominant DWCS performance and has been continually training to quickly improve his MMA skills from beyond his world-class wrestling base.

Gameplan/New Opponent 

For Bo’s second appearance on the Contender Series he will be getting a step up in competition and experience in the form of Donovan Beard.

Beard is 7-1 in MMA as a pro and was 6-3 as an amateur.

Donovan’s opponents combined record is 20-10 (entering their fights with Beard), and the first 3 opponent that he faced were making their pro debuts.

Beard has three submission finishes to his record and two TKO/KO finishes to his record.

Beard won the vacant Cage Fury FC Middleweight Championship in his last fight when he was able to submit a 3-0, Miles Lee in the 4th round with a triangle choke. Donavan was getting bested by Lee (who was 5-0 as an MMA amateur, as he was completely out-wrestled up until he was able to lock in a triangle off his back in the second to last round to pull of an improbable comeback.

Bo Nickal will look to become the 6th and final redemption fighter of the 2022 Contender Series season to earn a UFC contract. Bo is by far the most high profile fighter on this season of the Contender Series. And Bo likely possess the highest ceiling of potential of any fighter on the show this season as well. This will be a fight/signing that fans will not want to miss.