Chael Sonnen Speculates Sean Strickland as Bo Nickal’s Next Opponent after UFC 300

Chael Sonnen speculates that Sean Strickland‘s next UFC step could either be serving as the backup fighter for Dricus du Plessis’ next title defense or being saved for a more unexpected purpose, possibly involving rising prospect Bo Nickal.

Chael Sonnen’s got a couple of hunches about Sean Strickland’s next UFC move.

He thinks it could be as simple as Strickland being the backup for Dricus du Plessis’ next title defense. But then again, Sonnen, a three-time UFC title contender himself, can’t help but wonder if Strickland’s being kept on the back burner for something more… unexpected. Something that might only come to light post-UFC 300 on April 13.

Sonnen’s got this theory, see. He’s been talking about it on his YouTube channel. He points out that Bo Nickal is on the main card of UFC 300 for a reason. What that reason is, we don’t exactly know. But what we do know is that it’s all about giving a promising prospect some shine. And at some point, that prospect’s gotta face off with someone who’s got the right number next to their name.

Here’s an example Sonnen gives. Khamzat Chimaev. Dude wasn’t even ranked. But he was the media darling, like Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey. Red hot. And they had to get him into a title fight. So they put him against No. 3 Leon Edwards. People weren’t happy about it, thought it was a slight on Leon. But then COVID happened, the fight got canceled. But the theory, the process, it still stands.

Sonnen sees a similar situation with Sean O’Malley. Another promising prospect. He was on the edge of the rankings, then suddenly he’s in the title conversation after an unexpected matchup with former UFC bantamweight champion Petr Yan. O’Malley won, challenged Aljamain Sterling, and took the UFC title. He basically bypassed a bunch of contenders who’d been around longer at 135 pounds.

So, Sonnen’s thinking, maybe the UFC’s got something similar planned for Nickal. “Something’s happening with Bo,” he says. He’s not sure how many more squash matches they can do before they just say, “Hey, give him the match. We see what you’re trying to do.”

So who’s gonna get the call to do this for Bo? Sonnen’s guess? Strickland.

Nickal, 28, is seen as one of the most talented prospects in MMA. He’s a three-time NCAA Division I champion wrestler, undefeated in his MMA career, and started his UFC run with two first-round stoppages. He’s set to face Cody Brundage at UFC 300, a decision that’s ticked off some fans.

Strickland, 33, has been pushing for a rematch with du Plessis since he lost his title to the South African middleweight in his first title defense at UFC 297.

Sonnen’s pretty sure one of his two theories is right. “Those are very opposite guesses,” he admits. But he’s sticking to his guns. He believes Strickland will either be used to boost Nickal’s career, or he’ll be a backup fighter. Despite the difference in these scenarios, Sonnen’s confident he’s onto something.


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