Henry Cejudo wants to see more from Bo Nickal.
Though Nickal earned his first UFC win with a first-round submission of Jamie Pickett at UFC 285 this past Saturday, Cejudo saw some areas that could use an adjustment or two. And those adjustments should happen before the three-time NCAA Division I National Champion gets paired against the upper echelon of his division.
“There’s a huge hype train going around with Bo Nickal,” said Cejudo on his official YouTube channel. “I did see some — obviously, he did win, but I also saw a little difference in him, too, because he did struggle to get that takedown. MMA wrestling, it is different than NCAA Wrestling. They have to continue to keep building Bo Nickal. If they don’t build Bo Nickal, they give him somebody tough, Bo Nickal is going to struggle because I saw what I had to see within those first two minutes.
“I was curious to see if he didn’t get the arm triangle, how was it that he was going to come back in that second round because there’s a lot of squeezing, there’s a lot of blood that you’re constricting through you trying to submit somebody,” continued Cejudo. “But other than that, again, I had it first-round submission. It happened. But moving forward, Bo Nickal, I hope you’re listening. You’re gonna have to keep taking — you’re gonna need about six fights like this before you start getting up to, like, the top ten or anything of that matter. I know you have goals of becoming [No. 1] pound-for-pound, do I believe you can do it? 100 percent. Anybody that is a wrestler at the highest level like yourself, you can do it. Take your damn time, bro. Take your time, man.”
Based on his own experience, Cejudo said he wished he had done the same before his first fight with then-UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. At the time, ’Triple C’ was four fights into his UFC career, which he admitted was not enough to go against ‘Mighty Mouse’. Cejudo went on to suffer his first loss, a first-round TKO to Johnson at UFC 197 nearly seven years ago. For Nickal to avoid a similar situation, Cejudo says he should focus on building himself up before going after Alex Pereira, Israel Adesanya and Khamzat Chimaev.
To his credit, Nickal already addressed some of the areas of concern Cejudo pointed out.
“I absolutely could have done a lot of things better,” said Nickal in his post-fight interview (video provided by MMA Fighting). “I was just talking with my coach and I got to stop throwing high kicks right away because out of two of my four fights, I’ve fallen on my butt like a dummy. Yeah, that was fun. A little slip there, all good. But yeah, I think overall the performance was as expected, not exceptional. Just as expected. And I’m grateful to go out there and not get hit and get the win.”
With the win, Nickal improved to 4-0 as a professional.
About the author: Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016. (full bio)