New UFC 290 bout features one of the worst odds in history

The snake-bitten UFC 290 card has just lost another fight. This time the aborted match-up involved one of the company's top talents.

By: Tim Bissell | 3 months ago

Short notice replacement faces longest odds in UFC history

UPDATE: Bo Nickal has an opponent: Val Woodburn a 7-0 fighter from Florida. The odds makers are not impressed. Current odds for the bout have Nickal at -2500. MMA Mania put that into historical context:

“Now, I’m admittedly not a record keeper of such things, but last year, Alexander Romanov made history by smashing Chase Sherman as the -2200 favorite in what was reported as the biggest favorite in UFC history. This Sherdog article also has some massive historical favorites, but none come particularly close to the current odds on Nickal.”

Also among the worst lopsided UFC odds is Valentina Shevchenko’s title defense against Jennifer Maia, which had the longtime champ closing at -2500. She also was -1900 against Lauren Murphy.

Outside the UFC, Cyborg has had insane -5000 odds against Sinead Kavanagh and -2800 against Leslie Smith in Bellator, and also had a couple of bouts break -3000 in Invicta FC.

UFC 290 loses another great match-up

With UFC 290, it’s feeling like the more things change, the more they stay the same.

It was just a few days ago we were talking about UFC rising star Jack Della Maddalena vs. Sean Brady (an absolute banger of a match-up) falling out due to an injury to Brady. Prior to that we lost the sensational match-up of former UFC and RIZIN champs with Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Manel Kape. Additionally, hot prospect Cameron Saaiman lost his UFC tested opponent and, like Della Maddalena, was matched up with someone fresh from the regional scene.

Today we are mourning the loss of a very appropriate fight for UFC super duper prospect Bo Nickal. Ariel Helwani reports this morning that Nickal’s opponent Tresean Gore has pulled out due to injury. There seems to be some hope Nickal will be kept on the card, but on four days notice it’s unlikely he’ll be given an opponent he can’t squash in 30 seconds.

UPDATE: Bo Nickal will be remaining on the UFC 290. He is now scheduled to fight Valentine Woodburn. Woodburn is 29 with a 7-0 record. All of his pro bouts have been with the Combat Night Pro organization. His last fight was in August, 2022 when he beat Luis Melo (30-16-3) via unanimous decision to defend the CN middleweight title.

Bo Nickal vs. Tresean Gore would have been great

Bo Nickal has sliced through everyone he’s met in the cage thus far in his young MMA career. He’s 4-0 with easy wins at iKON and then the Contender Series. He made his full UFC debut in March with a no nonsense arm triangle win over Jamie Picket, a 13-8 vet who had also come off Contender Series.

Tresean Gore felt like a good test for Nickal at UFC 290. Gore is still young in the MMA game, but his 4-2 MMA record doesn’t include a stint in The Ultimate Fighter house where he went 2-0 before a knee injury took him out of the show’s final bout.

Gore is strong, fast and aggressive and would have given Nickal an interesting look for his second ever Octagon appearance under the big lights.

Nickal would have beaten Gore, of course, but the fight would have still served as an important part of the seasoning process for the highly touted talent.

Nickal’s beyond elite level wrestling (for MMA) is going to launch him to stardom, but rushing him into a fight with Khamzat Chimaev (or anyone else in the rankings) is a mistake we’ve seen played out too many times before.

The UFC seem determined to not rush Nickal, hence why they made him appear on the Contender Series a second time, despite him showing he was UFC level immediately. And I think they deserve credit for booking him against Gore.

Nickal will likely be given a new opponent to beat. Whomever comes in on four days notice will probably believe they have what it takes to shock the world, but in reality, the promotion is going to find someone at a local gym who has a single bout with a CFFC type promotion and a string of wins in a local circuit. They’ll be excited for the opportunity, eager to give it the old college try, but dangerously out of their depth. They may also think doing the UFC a solid on short notice will lead to a better opportunity down the road, but they shouldn’t hold their breath on that.

It’s highly unlikely that anyone we’ve heard of would step to Nickal with zero prep. Hopefully a new match-up gets made, with an appropriate opponent (someone Nickal can use to continue his development) for an event further down the road. Right now, though, Nickal vs. Joe Blow does nothing for the rising star.

UFC 290 goes down, with or without Nickal, on Saturday night.

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About the author
Tim Bissell
Tim Bissell

Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. Among Tim's specialties are the intersections between crime and combat sports. Tim has also covered head trauma, concussions and CTE in great detail.

Tim is also BE's lead (only) sumo reporter. He blogs about that sport here and on his own substack, Sumo Stomp!

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