UFC 290 Preview: Bo Nickal – Val Woodburn

Bo Nickal UFC
Mar 23, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Penn State wrestler Bo Nickal (grey) enters the arena prior to wrestling Ohio State wrestler Kollin Moore (not pictured) in the finals of the 197 pound weight class during the NCAA Wrestling Championships at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Kicking off the main card tomorrow night at UFC 290 is a middleweight battle between two middleweight prospects. Super prospect and former three-time NCAA division one wrestling champ Bo Nickal (4-0) will look to continue his MMA dominance as he takes on undefeated prospect Val Woodburn (7-0).

Originally, Nickal was supposed to face former Ultimate Fighter runner-up Tresean Gore. However, Gore suffered a really bad injury and was forced out of the bout. With that, Nickal was left without an opponent. Val Woodburn was scheduled to be on the upcoming season of The Contender Series, but he got the call to step in and he didn’t hesitate to say yes.

Woodburn comes to the octagon with an impressive 7-0 record with five finishes. His last fight came last August under the Combat Night promotion so this is going to be a massive step up in competition for Woodburn.

Bo Nickal made his official promotional debut at UFC 285 against Jamie Pickett. It was a controverial fight, but Nickal scored a first round finish. Thus far, Nickal has yet to see the three minute mark in any of his four fights.

UFC 290 Preview

I think any last minute opponent could pose some serious threats to any fighter. Woodburn is not well known and again, that could pose danger for Nickal. Woodburn is powerful and he definitely swings with a lot of power and if he lands flush on the chin, he can hurt Nickal.

That said, there are levels to the grappling game and Nickal is on a completely different level here. Even if Woodburn lands something big, Nickal is going to be able to fall back on that elite level wrestling. I’m also going to say that Nickal has the cardio advantage in this fight.

My prediction is that we will see a three-minute mark at least, but I’m still going with a first round finish for Bo Nickal. I think his speed is going to be a factor here and he’ll eventually get the fight to the ground and I see him getting a submission at UFC 290.

Prediction: Bo Nickal by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) – Round 1