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Unbeaten UFC middleweight Bo Nickal has long appeared to be on the path to title contention at 185-pounds.

The 28-year-old former Penn State wrestling sensation is a perfect 6-0 in his young mixed martial arts career, and the UFC brass clearly have confidence in his ability to swim with the big fish in the world’s leading mixed martial arts promotion — as evidenced by his claim that the promotion’s matchmakers sounded him out to step in on short notice to replace Khamzat Chimaev against former champ Robert Whittaker this weekend in Saudi Arabia.

It was confirmed last weekend that illness will prevent Chimaev from competing at the event.

“I did get a call, yeah,” Nickal said via his YouTube channel, as noted by MMA Fighting. “Unfortunately, I got a call while I was in the mountains of Montana and I didn’t get back to cell service for three days. I came back into cell service to a few text messages saying, ‘Call me back, call me back, call me back!’ And it was too late.”

The UFC would end up booking the 15-1 Ikram Aliskerov opposite Whittaker — a Russian combat sambo specialist whose only career defeat came against Chimaev several years ago.

“I’m not going to disclose numbers, but they were up there,” Nickal said of the financials on offer from the UFC for the hypothetical fight. “But, it was just too late. I couldn’t even really consider it because they had already kind of figured everything out, the way they were going to do it, because I was gone.

“Honestly, I don’t want to go to Saudi Arabia and fight. That’s freaking far as crap.”

And as for Chimaev, to whom Nickal has been repeatedly linked as a possible future opponent, he says that his prolonged absences from the cage are hurting his mystique.

“That dude’s losing his aura a bit,” he said. “He just needs to keep freaking winning and not doing this crap. I don’t think he’s over-training, I think he’s over-partying. I don’t know what else would it be?”