Israel Adesanya thinks Bo Nickal could be a victim of his own hype.
The freestyle wrestling champion and American Top Team (ATT) product is one of the hottest prospects in the UFC and believes he is already ready to fight Adesanya despite not yet having made his UFC debut but winning his first three MMA fights via first-round stoppage.
Nickal, whose UFC debut has been pushed back to 2023, claims Adesanya would not be able to stop his takedowns and that he would submit the undisputed UFC middleweight champion with ease.
Adesanya respects Nickal’s opinion but reminds him that this is MMA, not wrestling, claiming Nickal’s grappling can be exploited in the cage by an experienced fighter such as himself.
“Okay… Everyone has an opinion, so he has a right to his opinion,” Adesanya said of Nickal during a recent interview with Luke Thomas (h/t BJPenn.com). “[The sentiment that I could easily be taken down] is because nobody has ever tried to take me down and submit me. It is a [bizarre criticism], I think everyone is just – I could say whatever I want to say about him as well. I actually gave him props like ‘He’s doing what he’s doing’.”
“But, I’d like to see more,” he added. “He’s only just got here, and I know he’s a decorated wrestler but this is not wrestling, this is MMA. There’s ways to exploit wrestlers in MMA.”
Adesanya returns to the cage at UFC 281 to defend his middleweight title against kickboxing rival Alex Pereira in one of the most highly anticipated title fights of the year. The blockbuster pay-per-view, which also features a women’s strawweight title fight between Carla Esparza and Weili Zhang, takes place tonight at Madison Square Garden in New York, with the main card kicking off on ESPN+ PPV at 10 p.m. ET.
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