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The UFC clearly has high hopes for Bo Nickal.

The Penn State sensation has parlayed his success on the wrestling mats into the cage, winning each of his five fights to date by first-round finish — two of those coming on an official UFC card, and another two as part of the Dana White’s Contender Series.

On Saturday night, Nickal will continue his mixed martial arts apprenticeship against Cody Brundage in a fight that will open the historic UFC 300 main card — not bad for a fighter with a little over three minutes and 30 seconds of in-cage experience with the organisation.

“I didn’t expect it,” Nickal said of his placement on the card, which sees him elevated above several former UFC champions including Deiveson Figueirdo, Cody Garbrandt, Jessica Andrade, Holly Holm, Aljamain Sterling and Jiri Prochazka.

“I think that it’s a big honour for me to be where I’m at on the card, and just to be on this card in general because there’s so many amazing fighters and so many guys that have a ton of experience and who are just doing big things in the sport,” he added. “I feel like it says a lot about me, about the UFC and our plans, and I think they align. I’m just grateful to be where I’m at, and grateful to have this platform to go do my thing.”

But while he is still young in his professional combat sports career, Nickal is of the opinion that his body of work in the coming years will explain exactly why he has been thrust into this spot.

“I feel like at the end of the day, the UFC made a business decision and it made sense for me to be on the main card,” he said. “That being said, as far as the opinions of others, they’re not super relevant to me. I feel like those are going to ebb and flow. I’m confident in a year or two once I’ve established myself more and built my reputation in this sport more, that people will think it’s a no-brainer and look back on it and it will make a lot more sense.”