Bo Nickal Waltzes Through Main Event, Earns UFC Contract

Penn State wrestling legend Bo Nickal won the main event of the Dana White Contender Series’ season finale Tuesday after forcing his opponent to submit with a triangle choke 52 seconds into the first round.

Following the middleweight bout, UFC owner Dana White presented Nickal with a contract with the mixed martial arts promotion.

“Me and a lot of other people are excited to see the future that this kid has,” White said. “What he did in his first fight, how easy he made it look… He came in and said: ‘hey, dummy, you should have signed me the first time.'”

Nickal entered the fight with a 2-0 professional record after a 33-second knockout in his debut and a 62-submission victory in his Contender Series bout in August. Despite his impressive performances, UFC owner Dana White opted not to offer Nickal a contract — instead, promising a future contract if the Nittany Lion continued his streak of fight victories on the September 27 episode of the TV series.

Las Vegas and the sports books heavily favored Nickal, who entered the matchup as a -3500 favorite, according to DraftKings.

His opponent, Donovan Beard, boasted a 7-1 professional record before the bout. A relatively balanced competitor, Beard’s only competitive loss came by decision in a November 2021 fight. Six years Nickal’s senior, Beard also had a slight reach and weight advantage.

“I absolutely shine when the lights shine the brightest,” Nickal said before the fight.

Add soothsaying to Nickal’s list of skills, folks.

When the fight began, Nickal patiently looked for an opening. He struck as soon as one presented itself. With an overhand left, the Nittany Lion wasted no time dropping Beard.

Smelling blood in the water, Nickal put his wrestling experience to use and initiated the ground game. Nickal locked in a triangle choke, leading to his first-round submission victory in just 52 seconds.

As soon as the fight was over, Nickal mugged in White’s direction — much to the UFC owner’s delight.

“I’m born for this, bred for this,” Nickal said in his post-fight interview. “I expected to stand with him for one punch. I knew I’d drop him if I landed it.”

Attempting to show he was a well-rounded fighter, Nickal mentioned his development and the diversity of his MMA skillset.

“I think my submission game is world-class,” Nickal continued. “I think every fight I’ve had, I’ve finished a guy in a different way.”

After the fight, White gathered all of the event’s victors for the presentation of UFC contracts.

“My only note on my paper is ‘god damn,'” White said, later posting the evidence to his Instagram story. “Welcome to the UFC, brother.”

White also announced Bo Nickal would be included in the upcoming UFC 4 video game as a result of his performance. Nickal even held a copy of the game with him on the cover, as he was interviewed following the contract announcement.

“I’m ready to go in December,” Nickal said with a smirk. “Give me Logan Paul… If we can’t do it in the UFC, let’s do it in the WWE.”

With his contract, Nickal is the third Nittany Lion ever to earn a spot in the UFC. Phil Davis’ run ended in 2015, while Patrick Cummins was the most recent Penn Stater in the promotion, last appearing in 2019.

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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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