Like everyone else at the UFC APEX, former middleweight champion Michael Bisping was impressed by Bo Nickal’s second pro win in the DWCS headliner on Tuesday night.
But the ex-champion and DWCS commentator included a healthy amount of skepticism in his praise of the three-time Division I champion signing off as a future UFC title holder. As Nickal walked backstage to demand a UFC contract for his 62-second entry from Zachary Borrego, Bisping said the red-hot prospect’s work is far from done.
“Listen, he’s chasing the money, and with good reason,” Bisping said of Nickal’s move from amateur wrestling to professional MMA. “Caution though. Just because you can wrestle, just because you do on the Contender [Series] doesn’t mean you can come in here and beat the best fighters in the world.
“I’ve trained with many a great wrestler, guys who are almost as skilled as him, and against the fence it’s a different world. Of course, the man is going to have a sensational career. But slow down your roll a little, buddy.
“You still have that development contract, but congratulations anyway, that was sensational.”
The DWCS commentary team played up Nickal’s appearance the same way as other newcomers looking for a title shot on the show. But backstage at the APEX, UFC President Dana White appeared to have made up his mind about Nickal’s next move.
“He’s amazing — he’s one of the best prospects in the sport,” White told DWCS commentator Laura Sanko. “He’s 2-0, so what we’d like to do is offer him another fight in the Contender Series. If he wins it, we’d like to invite him to the UFC.”
White defended his choice at the post-fight press conference, saying that Nickal’s experience warranted another appearance in the Contender Series. When asked why the contract was seemingly on the table, White pointed to Nickal’s ornate background as the reason he got on the show, but indicated there was no guarantee of a contract.
Dan Hodge Trophy winner Nickal is now 2-0 with two first rounds. His move to MMA came under the iKON banner in June. His top American teammate Jorge Masvidal celebrated his win on Tuesday, as did several other current and former UFC champions who tuned in for the quick win.