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Sitting down with Nick Newell by Evan Shoman



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“Never, no.  It’s hard to fight here with two arms.  There’s guys that we bring in that are considered top guys on The Ultimate Fighter that don’t ever really pan out and make it.  Would some of the bigger athletic commissions let him fight?  Maybe he can get away with that in some of these other states.  I don’t know… Fighting with one arm is just craziness to me.”

-Dana White on Nick Newell

In the year 2013 you would figure that nothing is out of the realm of possibility anymore.  We have sent people to the moon, elected a black President, and seen Spencer Pratt attain fame.  These things were once considered impossible, but are now just the standard.  There have been so many ‘you can’t do it’ moments which have been proven false that it is surprising when anyone makes that declaration any more.

Enter Nick Newell.  He is the XFC lightweight champion and is currently 9-0 in his MMA career.  Newell has been blowing through his competition and racked up eight 1st round finishes.  When you see him fight it is immediately apparent that he is a competitor.  It’s also apparent that he is beating his opponents sans half an arm.

At first glance you simply see a one armed fighter.  After a while you just see an athlete who is smashing people inside of a cage.  This is ultimately Newell’s goal.  He only wants to get the same opportunity that everyone else gets without hearing ‘NO’ because someone may think he can’t do it.

ES: Were you surprised when people asked Dana White if they would bring you to the UFC and he said ‘No, never’?

NN: It did surprise me a little bit because he said he didn’t want to see me get hurt.  I thought that was a little silly because MMA is a sport where getting hurt is a very real possibility for anyone who fights.  I’m far from invincible, but I’ve proven that I am more than capable competing at a very high level.  It’s his opinion and I’m not going to sit and pout about it.  I’ll just keep beating people up, instead.

ES: Is there any extra motivation when fighting now to prove him and the doubters wrong?

NN: I don’t try to prove anything to anyone.  I fight because it is what I love to do and I want to compete at the highest possible level.  However, it does hurt a little bit that someone I look to as a public figure head would just cast me off so easily.

ES: Dana doesn’t know some guys on his own roster, but he most certainly knows who you are. 

NN: I know Dana is paying attention.  He knows who I am.  I’m on the radar.  Maybe all of this is because he may care too much about what other people think, but it should be about getting the best guys in the UFC.

ES: Do you ever feel like your story of overcoming adversity gets unfairly overshadowed by hot button topics (trt, transgender fighters, trash talkers) by the MMA media?

NN: I never think “Hey, look at me! I’m cool because I do this with 1 hand.” I’ll take the attention though, because I enjoy it and I really want to make a career out of this.

You’d think that someone with 8 first round finishes and beating a guy like Eric Reynolds (who was 1 fight away from a title shot in Bellator) would get a little more respect.

ES: Do you want people to stop looking at you as ‘The 1 armed athlete’ and just start seeing you as a great fighter?

NN: I want to prove I’m great.  I want to fight tough people.  I am enjoying this MMA journey and XFC have been part of the reason.

ES: Have you tried out for The Ultimate Fighter?

NN: I tried out for TUF when Brock Lesnar was coach, at 170 lbs.  During the training portion of the tryout I passed the striking and tapped the guy with an omoplata in the grappling, but they told me I was too small.  They called me back for 145 lbs and brought me out to Vegas. I thought I was going to be on TUF for sure, but they sent me home again.  I was 4-0 at the time and hadn’t fought anyone that tough yet.  I was pretty bummed out.  I decided that I would just keep winning and really prove myself.

ES:  Yours is a fantastic story that people would want to get behind on TUF.  I know you don’t want the “1 armed fighter” moniker, but if it brings attention to your career it’s a good thing.

NN:  I agree. I think I would have done extremely well on TUF.  I don’t think people realize what I bring to the table. After I didn’t make the show I used the time to get bigger and grow into the 155 class. I got the opportunity with XFC who look at me for just my skill.  I am very happy with my experience with them. A lot of great things have come into my life because of them.  I can train year round and I feel like I am just getting better and better.

ES: When is your next fight?

NN: I am defending my belt against undefeated Scott Holtzman on June 14th in Tampa.  I’m ready to go right now and just keep competing, competing, competing…

Dana White has stated on multiple occasions that the very best fighters in the world come to compete in the UFC.  Their roster is a vast landscape of people who have been told at some point that they couldn’t do something.   White had said women would never fight in the UFC, but Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche just headlined a ppv.   This shows that when Dana says ‘never’ it really means ‘when the time is right’.  In a Youtube video Dana was asked once again the Nick Newell question.  He said,

“I don’t know yet. It’s tough with 2 hands in the UFC.  Who has he fought?  When you come back tell me somebody he beat that matters and then we’ll talk about getting him in the UFC.”

Who are Jeremiah Constant and Jesse Fujarczyk again?  Anyone know? Bueller?  Those are the 2 guys that current heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez beat to get his UFC shot.  Clearly Newell in the UFC is feasible, but we just have to wait until Dana sees it as being Nick’s time.

The door is open for Newell and despite what has been said, Dana is watching.  Hopefully one day we will get to see this ‘great fighter’ in the UFC.  People should just enjoy what hard work and competitiveness looks like, in the form of Nick Newell.  No one knows what the future holds, but it is a certainty that Newell will be something special.  He just happens to have half an arm.  10 fingers are overrated anyway.

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