After making the decision to switch from wrestling to MMA after an Olympic run, Nickal set his sights on management to guide him through the early stages of his fighting career and beyond. After graduating from Penn State in 2019, the top prospect flew to Florida hoping to find a new home when he was ready for the cage, and Nickal was asked a question that was going to change his life forever…by allowing his life to stay exactly as it was.
“[FRM boss Malki Kawa] asked me where I wanted to train and stuff, and I was like, ‘Well, it would be nice to continue training at Penn State,’ Nickal explained. “He’s like, ‘Let me put you in touch with Dan [Lambert]. I think there is a way to find a solution and see how to put a better American team up there. On this trip, I met Dan and we immediately hit it off. He’s a great guy and one of the OGs in the sport. He loved the idea, so we started planning it immediately.
After healing from injuries, the COVID pandemic and the Olympic trials, Nickal found himself ready to venture into his new career at almost exactly the same time the gymnasium was ready to open doors.
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Lambert, ATT and FRM had such faith in Nickal that before he even called it a wrestling career, hundreds of thousands of dollars were gobbled up in ATT Happy Valley.
Is it possible for the gym to be successful without Nickal? It’s possible. Mixed martial arts has put BJJ and Muay Thai on the map like never before, but even with that in mind, central Pennsylvania isn’t exactly a hotbed for the MMA stars of tomorrow.