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Bubba Jenkins: UFC phenom Bo Nickal will be a good fighter, ‘but needs more work’

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA — Bubba Jenkins has some advice for his fellow National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I wrestling champion — and red-hot Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight standout — Bo Nickal.

Jenkins is gearing up for his 2023 Professional Fighters League (PFL) season debut at 2023 PFL 1 next weekend (Sat., Apr. 1, 2023), where “Bad Man” will rematch Chris Wade. Jenkins had his best season in 2022, winning three fights, picking up his first finish, and making it to the finals.

However, Jenkins came up short in said final, losing via technical knockout at the hands of Brendan Lougnane (watch highlights).

Nevertheless, the 35-year-old is one of the top college wrestlers to transition to mixed martial arts (MMA) and vigorously keeps up with the sport to this day, including keeping his eye on NCAA wrestlers who move to MMA.

One of the most prominent and credentialed NCAA wrestlers, Bo Nickal, made his highly-anticipated UFC debut earlier this month (March 4, 2023), slicing through an over-matched Jamie Picket en route to a first round submission win (watch highlights).

Jenkins wasn’t overly impressed.

“I thought it was a successful debut,” Jenkins told during a PFL 2023 press junket. “I thought that they are doing a good job of bringing wrestling to the forefront of mixed martial arts. I know for sure he’s going to be a good fighter, but I know he needs a lot more work. I believe it’s too quick.

“Even in my beginning career, I rushed to the forefront of Bellator a little too quick,” Jenking continued. “Had I had, you know, maybe better people in my corner who knew more about the sport to say, ‘Hey, let’s go a little bit slower.’ Because once you fall from here, that fall is precipitous. Once you leave the NBA, once you leave the NFL, it’s only arena leagues after this ... once you get on that main stage, and you’re at the top, at the highest, when you’re not prepared for it, that fall hurts. It could come very quick.”

Nickal is rumored to return to UFC action against Tresean Gore sometime this year (more details here), while Jenkins looks to avenge his loss to Wade next week at The Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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