Las Vegas, NV — The opponent switch didn’t matter in the end. Middleweight prospect Bo Nickal dominated at UFC 290, scoring a quick KO against newcomer Val Woodburn.
It was Tresean Gore, an Ultimate Fighter 29 alumni, who Nickal (5-0) had originally been paired up with. An injury to Gore opened the door for Woodburn, who came in as a huge underdog. And there was to be no upset on Saturday. The biggest surprise, to some anyway, was that decorated collegiate wrestler Nickal got the job done with his hands.
As Nickal explained during his post-fight press conference appearance at the T-Mobile Arena, he expects all areas of his game will be world class in the end.
“By the end of my career, I already have world class wrestling, I’m going to have world class boxing, I’m going to have world class jiu-jitsu, I’m going to have I’m going to have world class Muay Thai,” Nickal stated. “And I’m going to compete on a world class level in any of those disciplines individually, and obviously in MMA as well.”
Saturday marking just his second fight under the UFC banner and fifth overall (with two others coming on Dana White’s Contender Series), Nickal doesn’t have a ton of experiences to compare his KO win to. But it felt a little more special than his debut, Nickal told Cageside Press.
“I think obviously March being my debut was special, but to me this was more special, because I was able to have my whole team with me. And I think I performed better; obviously getting a knockout finish is pretty exciting and a pretty cool thing to do. Especially given it’s International Fight Week, I think the energy was absolutely insane this whole week.”
Resisting the urge to pursue a takedown, meanwhile, was another factor in the fight. As Nickal explained, “It was interesting because going into the fight, I really expected my opponent to kind of charge me, rush in, try to land something big. Because to me that was really his only chance to win the fight. But he was really patient, which I think is a testament to his team, his coaches— he was following a game plan, and I had to adjust on the fly.”
Watch the full UFC 290 post-fight press conference with Bo Nickal above.