LAS VEGAS – If Dana White had to pick one fighter from the most recent season of Dana White’s Contender Series it’d be a no-brainer.
With his win, Nickal essentially repeated history. In early August, he took 10 seconds longer to submit Zack Borrego. While many viewers thought the former Dan Hodge Trophy winner would be a shoe-in for a UFC deal, White elected not to, but rather bring him back on DWCS instead.
“After what you saw tonight, you know I made the right decision,” White said. “He got highlighted once. SportsCenter has been talking about him for three days. (He) came in tonight and performs the way that he does, I couldn’t have done it any better – I must say so myself. Apparently, I must.”
The buzz surrounding Nickal as he exits DWCS and enters the UFC is perhaps incomparable to anyone previously to come off the show. Nickal is being added to EA Sports video game UFC 4 and even called out Khamzat Chimaev in his post-fight interview.
While the potential ceiling is sky-high, White said to pump the breaks on such matchup talk in the immediate.
“Let’s not get crazy here,” White said. “It’s funny we were in matchmaking today and we were just talking about Khamzat and possibilities and how f*cking good that guy really is, you know? You saw it in this last fight. Kevin Holland, to get beat the way (he did), well, Kevin expected it. For everybody else, to see it happen the way that it happened, nobody saw that coming but Kevin.”
So what will the UFC do with Nickal? Will they scope out a special fast-track for the mega prospect? Nope. They’ll treat him like everyone else, according to White.
“You don’t test him against ranked talent,” White said. “You bring him in just like you’d bring in any prospect. You build him up and give him fights. The problem is, there are no easy fights here. This isn’t like the boxing model. But he walked into a show where there is no easy fights. Everybody here are killers. If you perform the way that you performed here twice… There are some guys that come in here and it’s a rough go. There are wars to squeak off a win or pull off a win or whatever. This guy came in and dominated twice.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for DWCS 56.