Like everyone else at UFC APEX, former middleweight champion Michael Bisping was impressed by Bo Nickal’s second pro win at Tuesday night’s DWCS headliner.
But the ex-champion and DWCS commentator included a healthy dose of skepticism in his praise as he signed the three-time Division I champion as a future UFC champion. As Nickal went backstage to claim a UFC contract for his 62-second submission from Zachary Borrego, Bisping said the red-hot candidate’s job was far from done.
“Listen, he’s chasing the money, and rightly so,” Bisping said of Nickal’s transition from amateur wrestling to professional MMA. “But beware. Just because you can wrestle, just because you do it on the Contender [Series] doesn’t mean you can come in here and beat the best fighters in the world.
“I’ve trained with a lot of great wrestlers, guys who are almost as successful as him, and it’s a different world against the fence. Of course, the man will have a sensational career ahead of him. But slow down a bit, mate.
“You still have that development deal, but still, congratulations, that was sensational.”
The DWCS commentary team played up Nickal’s performance, as did other up-and-coming talent looking for a title shot on the show. But backstage at APEX, UFC President Dana White appeared to have made up her mind on Nickal’s next move.
“He’s amazing – he’s one of the hottest prospects in esports,” White told DWCS commentator Laura Sanko. “He’s 2-0, so we’d like to offer him another fight in the Contender Series. If he wins that, we would like to invite him to the UFC.”
White defended his pick at the post-fight press conference, saying Nickal’s experience warranted another appearance in the Contender Series. When asked why the contract was even on the table, White cited Nickal’s decorated background as the reason he got on the show, but stated there was no guarantee of a contract.
Nickal, a Dan Hodge Trophy winner, is now 2-0 with two first-round finishes. His move to MMA came in June under the iKON banner. His top-flight America teammate, Jorge Masvidal, celebrated his win on Tuesday, as did several other current and former UFC champions who watched the quick win.