If there was ever anyone who could identify and point out one reason for disliking Nickal, it would be someone from the Dean family. But for as many reasons as 2022 National Champion Max Dean should hate Nickal, he found a lot more reasons to love him.
You’d think that after Nickal dethroned his brother and beat him up, Dean would avoid any interaction with his rival. But even though he tried, Nickal beat him to the punch when Dean became a Nittany Lion.
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“We’re good friends,” Dean said. “I look up to him a lot with what he’s done in his career and the kind of person he is. I was new to Penn State last year and he was someone who competed against my brother a few times and I had actually wrestled him in college a while back, and he was always very open and he welcomed me with open arms and he’s just a great guy overall.
Of course, there was never any disdain for the three-time national champion and Dean was always happy to work with Nickal. Dean knows Nickal is as likable as he is talented and couldn’t resist winning against the Hodge Trophy winner.
Dean has in fact observed that as much of a niche sport as wrestling still is in most circles, Nickal walks the Penn State grounds with as much praise and respect as Todd Blackledge did in the 80s. In a sport that most people on a college campus can’t name half training, Nickal has always stood out as a winner.
“He’s had a lot of wins,” Dean said. “It seems a bit normal here because we are at Penn State and there have been so many college wrestlers here who have won multiple national titles, but Bo Nickal is by far one of the most dominant college wrestlers in history. recent. He’s been so good for so long and he always gives thanks and talks about his faith and being positive.
Dean feels that his likability, skill, and even willingness to “play the game” and engage in trash talk will get him as far in MMA as he does in NCAA wrestling.
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There’s no equivalent to a Hodge Trophy in MMA but Nickal has already talked about a future jump to the light heavyweight division, so being a champion in two divisions is on the table and he has plenty of time to win and defend a middleweight title.
It can be difficult to capture the exact same aura that Nickal carries in the halls of Penn State, but from what Dean sees in him, there’s no reason to bet against it.
“Some people just have that ‘it’ factor and that charisma and that’s something that Bo definitely has,” Dean said. “He’s someone who absolutely believes he’s going to win every time he steps on the mat. That’s why he’s going to be really fun to follow throughout MMA, because he’s going to get a lot of wins, and in a cool way too. He’s not a guy who wants to play it safe and win by decision. He wants to end the game or end the fight. He’s a beast. He’s going to be phenomenal.
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