LAS VEGAS – First there are the general draft picks, and then there are the boys LeBron JamesPeyton Manning and Sidney Crosby. Among the greats are the greats, not just the stars, but the people who change the fortunes of the franchise and the city.
The “Dana White Rivals Series” has basically changed for the UFC draft, and on Tuesday, at the end of Season 6, it seems that the UFC has snatched the next James, Manning or Crosby.
That’s what the great ones do, because they believe in themselves so well.
Of course, Wyatt brought up that idea in his post-fight news conference, but if Nickal finds out who he is, it won’t be long before that much of a fight is made for him.
James was one of the best players in the NBA less than 2 months into his rookie season. It was the same with guys like Manning and Crosby.
Nickal gives every hint that he’s not only going to be a first-round pick of your garden type, but an impact performer of that caliber.
White didn’t give Nickal a contract in his first fight of the season when he defeated him in 1:02 of the first round in Week 6, but brought him back for another go. He was clearly underwhelmed by Nickal’s performance, but blown away by it.
“Oh my God,” White said. “An amazing man. The boy is incredible. He looks great. This was obviously a big step up in competition. He fought someone 7-1, reached advantage, height advantage. The boy’s confidence in himself is incredible. His game is incredibly well-rounded. Yes, he was amazing. “
Nickal was the 2019 Hodge Trophy winner at Penn State after collegiate wrestling, where he won three NCAA championships and was a four-time All-American. He made the world’s toughest sport look easy, winning his three MMA fights in 33, 62 and 52 seconds respectively.
He comes from a highly athletic family, so he got the genes that helped him go a long way in the sport. His grandfather and father were wrestling coaches, his father played college football and his mother not only played college basketball but also did amateur boxing. Everyone is quickly on board when he says he wants to fight, and it’s proving to be a smart choice.
White said Nickal moves him as well as any other prospect, though not as much. He’s a very loud voice soon.
“Everybody I come close to knows what I’m capable of and what I can do, but when the time comes, more and more people continue to jump on the bandwagon,” Nickal said. “It’s about developing and improving and developing all my skills.
“I’ll have the best fighting foundation of anyone I’ve ever fought. But at the end of the day, that’s not going to be enough to be the UFC champion and be the number 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, which is my goal. So I have to train all my fighting and other skills.
His other skills were on display since his induction on Tuesday. It was a joke among Octagonside reporters about how fast Nickal would shoot for a takedown. Instead, he drops his beard with a left hook and rolls to his back to slap on a triangle choke that ends the fight.
On a night of stellar performances — Mateusz Mendonca looked impressive and he and Rafael Estevem, Jack Jenkins and Sam Patterson all earned contracts — Nickal stood head and shoulders above the rest. And no, he wasn’t kidding about confronting Chimave.
“I feel like it’s a good matchup,” Nikal said of Chimaev. “Of course he is a top-class fighter and a top-class fighter. He is one of the top fighters not only in the division but also in the UFC. I have a lot of respect for his talent but I know what I’m about.
He looks to be one of the most talented fighters in the company’s history. He clearly needs to turn that potential into performance, but he’s off to a good start at this stage.