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Former Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo knows that the transition from wrestling to MMA isn’t so simple.
It’s easy to forget given Cejudo’s rise to “Triple C” status, but his UFC career didn’t actually start that smoothly. He missed weight several times on the regional scene, so when the UFC did give him a chance, he actually debuted at Bantamweight. After being allowed to drop to 125 lbs., Cejudo won three fights, fought Demetrious Johnson, and got smoked in the first round by “Mighty Mouse” in just his 11th professional bout.
That loss changed something in Cejudo. He adjusted his stand up style, gathered more experience working back to the title picture, and eventually captured two UFC titles. It may have only been a few fights and couple years, but the difference in Cejudo from his first title shot to his second was immense.
Perhaps it’s that experience that has him advising Middleweight mega prospect Bo Nickal to slow his roll. Nickal cruised through Jamie Pickett at UFC 285 for a first-round finish, but perhaps he also showed his inexperience. Echoing Daniel Cormier, Cejudo says it’s way too soon for the 4-0 pro to be talking about men like Israel Adesanya and Khamzat Chimaev.
From his perspective, Nickal needs a half dozen fights before he’s Top 10 ready in order to really be ready and maximize his potential.
“There’s a huge hype train going around with Bo Nickal,” Cejudo said on his YouTube channel (via MMAJunkie). “I did see some – obviously, he did win, but I also saw a little difference in the two 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, when 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. 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 need about six fights like this before you start getting up to like the top 10.”
It remains to be seen if Nickal heeds the advice of his wrestling peers or continues trying to speed run his way to a title. For Cejudo, he’s expected to return to action against Aljamain Sterling for the Bantamweight belt in May … if Sean O’Malley doesn’t intercept that opportunity!
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Slips, rips, and KO clips
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Spinning is out, jumping is in.
Midnight Music: Get it?
Sleep well Maniacs! More martial arts madness is always on the way.