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Bo Nickal explains why he couldn’t accept Robert Whittaker fight offer at UFC Saudi Arabia

Bo Nickal didn’t get to save the day when UFC reached out to him about replacing Khamzat Chimaev for the upcoming fight against former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker.

The last-minute proposal came after Chimaev dropped off Saturday’s UFC Saudi Arabia card due to an illness that prevented him from competing. In Chimaev’s place, UFC ultimately got highly touted contender Ikram Aliskerov to accept the fight, and he now faces Whittaker in the main event as the UFC travels to Saudi Arabia for the first time ever.

When UFC was scrambling to find the best possible option to headline the card, Nickal claims he got a call, but he didn’t find out about it until it was too late.

“I did get a call, yeah,” Nickal revealed on his YouTube channel. “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.”

Nickal said the offer to fight Whittaker was so real that UFC had started discussing a bump in his paycheck to accept the matchup on short notice. Sadly, the multi-time NCAA wrestling champion didn’t get to negotiate his purse because he couldn’t respond before UFC had already found a solution in Aliskerov.

“I’m not going to disclose numbers, but they were up there,” Nickal said. “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.”

As far as the new matchup goes, Nickal actually believes Aliskerov has what it takes to pull off the upset and beat a middleweight veteran like Whittaker in just his third UFC fight.

In his first two octagon appearances, Aliskerov ran roughshod over Phil Hawes and Warlley Alves, scoring knockouts in both fights. Taking on somebody like Whittaker is a huge step up in competition, but Nickal thinks Aliskerov is up to the challenge.

“I think Ikram will probably win,” Nickal said. “It depends on how ready he is and stuff. I just think style-wise, Ikram will probably win.”

When it comes to Chimaev’s future, Nickal admitted that the interest around the undefeated Chechen has started to fade due to Chimaev’s inactivity. Since the start of 2021, Chimaev has with only logged four fights. Chimaev was once heralded as a potential boogeyman in two different divisions, but Nickal feels like a lot of that luster has been knocked off, and dropping out of another fight isn’t helping Chimaev’s cause much.

“That dude’s losing his aura a bit,” Nickal said about Chimaev. “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?”

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