In a recent video on his YouTube channel, Henry Cejudo, the former UFC bantamweight, and flyweight champion had some words of wisdom for Bo Nickal, the former Penn State wrestling standout who made his MMA debut at UFC 285.
Cejudo, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest combat sports athletes of all time, warned Nickal not to rush his development in the sport and emphasized the importance of taking his time before taking on the top 10 in his division.
Cejudo wasn't all that convinced with whatever he witnessed, although Nickal (4-0 MMA) submitted Jamie Pickett in the first round of this past Saturday's main event kick-off at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Nickal had to struggle for his first takedown until he was helped to accomplish it by an apparent low blow that the referee missed to see. Nickal grabbed an arm-triangle choke after forcing Pickett to the canvas, but it took him some time to settle in and line up perfectly. The talented wrestler is incredibly confident that he can defeat top competitors right away, but Cejudo, a former Olympic gold medalist and two-division UFC champion, warns against haste since it will haunt him.
“There’s a huge hype train going around with Bo Nickal,” Cejudo said on his YouTube channel. “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.”
Cejudo's advice is spot on. While wrestling is undoubtedly an essential skill in MMA, it's only one aspect of the sport. To be successful in MMA, fighters need to be well-rounded and have a solid understanding of striking, grappling, and submissions.
However, as Cejudo points out, Nickal still has a lot to learn before he's ready to take on the top fighters in his division. He needs to continue to develop his striking and submission skills and gain more experience in the cage.
Taking time to develop these skills is especially important in MMA, where fighters can suffer serious injuries or setbacks if they're not adequately prepared. Rushing into fights before they're ready could set Nickal back in his development and ultimately hurt his chances of achieving his goals in the sport.