Bo Nickal is entering the biggest weekend of his combat career. Not only is he making his Octagon debut against Jamie Pickett tomorrow night (Sat., Mar. 4, 2023) at UFC 285 live on ESPN+ PPV from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, but he’s doing so on one of the biggest cards of the year. One that is being headlined by the return of the legendary Jon Jones.
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HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION SUPER FIGHT! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., March 4, 2023, with one of the biggest fights in its history as No. 1-ranked Heavyweight contender, Ciryl Gane, and former Light Heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, collide in a “super” fight for the vacant undisputed Heavyweight title. In UFC 285’s pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, women’s Flyweight roost-ruler, Valentina Shevchenko — UFC’s current longest-reigning champion — defends her 125-pound title against Mexico’s Alexa Grasso.
Nickal, who is a three-time NCAA Division I national wrestling champion, has ballooned to a -2200 favorite to win his UFC debut. Those odds are absolutely staggering — especially for a fighter who have never fought under the bright lights of the Octagon — but Nickal is that good. He proved it on the Contender Series and is looking to take the middleweight division by storm pretty quickly.
Ahead of his debut, Nickal has been thrown into the spotlight on one of the biggest cards of the year. It has been a crash course of media obligations, interviews, staredowns, and behind-the-scenes affairs. That may seem hectic to most, but Nickal is excited to be in this spot and fight on a card headlined by an all-time legend like Jones.
“Super motivating for me,” said Nickal during UFC 285’s media day. “I remember probably being in the fifth, sixth grade, watching UFC events and seeing Jon Jones dismantle people.
“So to be on the same card as him is a big honor. I’m very grateful for that opportunity. I think it’s pretty cool.”
Making Nickal’s UFC debut even more memorable was a run-in with Jones earlier this week in Las Vegas. The two fighters have nothing but respect for one another, but when Jones jokingly tried to take Nickal down the former NCAA champion had to show “Bones” what’s up.
“I was able to meet him yesterday at the [UFC Performance Institute],” Nickal said. “He tried to take me down, but I obviously stuffed that and ran around and got behind him and stuff. Again, very grateful to be on the card, and he’s definitely a guy that, his fighting style, I’d like to emulate.
“He had a pretty strong grip, but overall, it was just straight wrestling, so I had a big advantage.”
While Nickal will need to focus on his debut against Pickett tomorrow night at UFC 285 the middleweight prospect will be watching the main event closely. As mentioned before, Nickal has been a fan of Jones for quite some time and believes the former UFC light heavyweight champion will find immediate success at heavyweight.
“I got Jones, 100 percent,” Nickal said. “No doubt in my mind that he’s going to [win]. Obviously he’s had a long layoff, hasn’t fought in a while, but I think that he’s going to go out there and perform really well. He’s a guy, again, when the pressure’s on, he performs the best, and he just knows how to fight and knows how to win. I think that is even bigger than being a great fighter, is he knows how to win. I predict him getting the win and doing it in spectacular fashion.
“He’s going to be fine this weekend, I’m sure. I’m really excited to see him fight. A lot of anticipation with him coming up to heavyweight, and I think that he’ll probably put on his best performance ever, just because there’s more pressure and more eyes and he’s a guy that performs when the spotlight’s on him better than anyone.”
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 285 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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