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Nick Newell improves to 10-0 in his WSOF debut

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2-22. That stuck in my head before Nick Newell’s debut fight for the WSOF against Keon Caldwell. Newell informed the viewing audience that in his first year of wrestling he went 2-22. He also said, “You know I could have called it quits and said this isn’t for me, but I said I’m gonna learn from this and this is gonna be my motivation and I’m gonna get good at this.” That early adversity has translated to a 10-0 start to his MMA career. Nine of those wins are stoppages. He now has seven submission victories to go with two TKO/KO’s and one decision win. The foundation for his perfect record in MMA was laid in that 2-22 season and his reaction to it. Most people would not have finished out the season when it was going that poorly, much less comeback the next year. Persevering through the difficult times, not giving up and turning the negatives into positives are the traits of champions. Newell wore the belt for XFC and looks like he is on his way to claiming the WSOF lightweight title.

One thing that stands out about Newell is there are two of him. There is the one you see in the pre-fight interviews that is personable, and has a good sense of humor. He is very likable in these circumstances. Then there is the one that was pacing like a caged tiger as they were going through the introductions. This was a focused locked in fighter set to do battle. That switch had been flipped and he was ready for the fight.

As the fight started Bas Rutten informed the audience that, “They gave like five options to Nick Newell and he chose the strongest one.” Caldwell comes into the fight with a 9-1 record himself with all of his wins via finishes. He has eight TKO/KO’s to go with one submission win. It looked like Caldwell might be getting the first round finish when he clipped Newell with a right hand. Newell went down to the ground and Caldwell started to move in for some ground and pound, but instantly Newell started to tie up the legs with his own. They scrambled and grappled for thirty seconds before Newell secured the takedown.

At this point Todd Harris wanted to point out the difficulty of facing Newell. His point was that Caldwell was at a disadvantage because he cannot bring in fighters to replicate what Newell does. He used wrist control as an example of one of the problems for Newell’s opponents. Rutten agrees that Newell is good but points out, “make no mistake it is never an advantage.” It is not that Newell is a great fighter because of his arm or despite his arm. He is a great fighter because of his heart, will, and mind. Any advantage he has inside of the cage comes from the handwork he put in to make it that way. Just like every other successful fighter he has taken the tools he has and made himself into one of the rising stars of MMA.

He showed good movement in the standup to avoid and slip punches and kicks. He landed some of his own but nothing that did any damage. Caldwell was winning the stand up side of this fight but outside of that early right hand he had not been able to hurt Newell. With just over two minutes and thirty seconds left in the round Newell shot in for the takedown. He landed in Caldwell’s guard and quickly passed into half-guard. As Newell was passing Caldwell attempted a kimura which was easily defended. During the scramble Newell slipped out of half-guard, secured a choke and locked it up for the win.

2-22. It keeps coming back to that for me. The amount of stubbornness, will and desire to succeed that has to burn inside to keep coming back after each loss. The belief that one has to have in oneself has to be unwavering to get knocked down, get back up and eventually succeed. Newell showed that kind of perseverance, the kind that leads to championships. The kind that overcomes any obstacle in front of them. His journey is an inspiration to others that struggle with the limitations others want to put on them. He proves every time he steps in the cage that the only limitations you have are the ones you put on yourself.

Article via Dwayne Wolff

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