Bo Nickal absolutely burned through his latest opponent at UFC 290 last night (Sat., July 8, 2023) inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, finishing last-second replacement, Val Woodburn, via knockout just 38 seconds into the first round (watch highlights).
It was impressive because Nickal — a multi-time NCAA Division I Penn State University wrestling champion — didn’t even have to use his superior grappling to handle business. Instead, he relied completely on his hands to bully Woodburn up. Woodburn was apparently so ready for the takedown that he never saw Nickal’s big right hand coming.
The punch stunned him, and all it took was a few more follow up strikes to put the late replacement down and out.
Nickal’s lightning-fast win kind of got lost in the shuffle of UFC 290 — there were so many big finishes and wild fights that his win over a heavy underdog (the largest underdog in UFC history, actually) was a bit unappreciated ... by everybody but Nickal himself.
A new video from BT Sport shows the Middleweight prospect admiring his handiwork.
“Faking the shot, feinting the shot, feint, there’s a hook,” he said as he watched a replay of the knockout. “I was fast as hell. Damnit, I didn’t know I was that fast. And then kind of an uppercut ... and he’s out! That was fast, I gotta rewind it!
“Hold on. Did I get freakin’ hit? Damn it, I think I got hit,” Nickal continued. “So, let’s see here ... I got to go slow-mo. Won’t count that one. Nah, I didn’t get hit, we’re good, we’re good. And then I finish him.
“Watch this one, this one’s sweet right at the end,” Nickal concluded. “Sorry, Val. Bam. You’re done. And no sell it. That’s expected. I told myself I’m not gonna celebrate this one just because, I don’t know. You start celebrating everything, then it’s kind of like cliche to me. So, got the win.”
Nickal came into the UFC talking a big game, and for a hot minute, it looked like he planned to ride a cocky persona to headlines, fame and fortune. But, at UFC 290, he showed off another, humbler side of himself. Numerous interviews were focused around thanking his team at American Top Team or the time and effort they were putting into his development.
“I’m just proud to represent my team in a positive way,” he said at UFC 290’s post-fight press conference. “It’s definitely exciting because I know how much work I put in, how much time and effort I put in to do that, and I’m just so happy that my work is paying off. And I’m happy for my team and those guys because I was able to execute all the things that we worked on together.
“It’s really what I’m proud of the most is doing it together,” Nickal added. “Of course I won, but I really feel like, in reality, we all won.”
So, what’s next for Nickal? During his post-fight speech, the wrestling standout implied he wanted to take some time off to go hunting and prepare for the birth of his first child. Moments later during UFC 290’s press conference, he simply said he’d take a few days to relax and then speak to his management about next steps.
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