While UFC matchmakers determine who will be the next man up to challenge the newly-minted middleweight champion Dricus du Plessis, one man expected to earn a title bout in the next couple of years says he knows who shouldn’t get it just yet.
Bo Nickal, the former Penn State wrestling prodigy who has so far parlayed his grappling acumen into a perfect 5-0 record in mixed martial arts, is widely expected to one day in the not too distant future to earn a title bout of his own should he continue his current momentum. But with no clear contender established at the moment in the UFC’s 185-pound fold, Nickal has said that Khamzat Chimaev — also undefeated — hasn’t yet done what it takes to claim a title shot.
“They’d been talking about giving Khamzat the title [fight], but Khamzat’s been hurt, he’s been sick, he’s messed up in the hospital, broke his hand, all this crazy stuff,” Nickal said on his personal YouTube channel, as noted by MMA Fighting. “So, I don’t know. Other guys that are coming up at ‘85.. there’s really not that many guys. I don’t even know who’s really getting up there that could fight for the belt at ‘85.”
He added: “There’s good guys but not very many win streaks. Not very many guys that are putting themselves in that position. I would guess that they do Adesanya.”
The UFC’s official rankings list former champ Sean Strickland as the top contender, with Israel Adesanya just below him. It is presently unlikely that Strickland would be ushered into an immediate rematch with the South African champion, despite their bout earlier this month being a close one.
Adesanya, meanwhile, has stated his intention to step away from the sport a while, while Robert Whittaker, ranked third, was beaten by Du Plessis last summer.
“Dude, they’re gonna give Khamzat the title shot for sure at some point,” Nickal continued. “I don’t think he’s gonna have to fight again until he gets a title shot. Do I think he deserves that? No. He hasn’t fought a single ‘85er. He’s fought less ‘85ers than me. My opponents aren’t even on the roster anymore.
“Brendan Allen’s won a few in a row but he’s not deserving of a title shot,” Nickal said. Costa and Whittaker [are fighting]. I don’t think either of those guys gets a title shot with this win. Whittaker just lost to Du Plessis and Costa beat Luke Rockhold in his last fight, but he hasn’t fought in like two years.
“If Khamzat would have beat Costa then it’s like, okay, easy. No problem. He beat Usman who’s 170 and had five days to get ready. So, I don’t know that he deserves a title shot. It would be a good fight, I’d like to see it, but I don’t know.”