Bo Nickal Dominates In Professional MMA Debut

In his first-ever professional mixed martial arts bout, Penn State wrestling legend Bo Nickal knocked out his opponent in 33 seconds Friday night at Jorge Masvidal’s iKon FC 3.

Coming into the fight, Nickal boasted an undefeated amateur record of 2-0. A submission victory in September 2021 and a first-round knockout in November 2021 highlighted the versatility of the national champion wrestler.

“I’m going in there for the finish,” Nickal said in a pre-fight interview. “I’m not going in there to mess around or get a decision.”

That might have been an understatement.

Nickal’s opponent, John Noland (who has fought under the name John Conner elsewhere), also made his professional debut. Noland entered the matchup with a 6-3-0 amateur record but had lost two of his previous three fights.

A missed kick from Nickal right out of the gate didn’t seem to deter him, as he continued an aggressive barrage of early strikes. Nickal connected a strong left hand shortly after, leading to a three-punch combination that left the Nittany Lion victorious and his opponent unconscious just 33 seconds into the fight’s first round.

“I feel great,” Nickal said following the fight. “I’m just so thankful that I have a great team around me.”

Nickal noted that he and his team specifically worked on improving his striking proficiency ahead of iKon FC 3. This marks the continuation of a trend in Nickal’s development.

With his decorated wrestling background (three NCAA championships, 2019 Dan Hodge Trophy winner, and the 2019 U23 world championship), Nickal has leaned on the grappling game. However, his strategy against Noland seemingly marks the second consecutive fight where the Nittany Lion opted to remain upright.

The concerted effort to diversify his skillset is one of the most encouraging aspects of Nickal’s performance — arguably even more so than the end result. Perhaps the most encouraging aspect though is his confidence.

After answering the post-fight interviewer’s baseline questions about his performance and preparation, Nickal boldly his made his intentions known.

“Every single middleweight on the planet, I don’t care what organization you’re in,” Nickal warned. “UFC, Bellator, PFL — doesn’t matter. I’m coming for all y’all.”

Though Nickal’s opponent was ten years older (36) and not nearly as muscular, the ferocious performance is nothing to ignore. If Nickal wants to fully assert his legitimacy, he must dominate the fights he’s supposed to win. His performance against Noland certainly fell in that category. The visible efforts to expand his skillset will only make him more viable.

Additionally, with the fight televised on the UFC’s Fight Pass streaming service and prominent MMA analysts already taking notice, Nickal’s path to becoming Penn State’s first UFC competitor since 2014 may now be within striking distance.

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About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in journalism and political science & minoring in German and creative writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate messages can be sent to [email protected] or @SamFremin on Twitter.

He may or may not read every single comment he gets.

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