Nick Newell has made a name for himself in mixed martial arts for a couple of reasons. The 32-year old was born with congenital amputation of his left arm. He’s referred to as “the one-handed fighter.” He’ll always be known for that, but he’s also known for being a damn good mixed martial artist. He has a 14-1 professional record, and his only loss was to UFC lightweight contender Justin Gaethje.
After his TKO loss to Gaethje for the World Series of Fighting lightweight title in 2014, Newell fought twice more, winning both, before stepping away from the sport in 2015. Mentally frustrated and physically drained, Newell went back to the drawing board.
“First off, I had to take a step back and just kind of breathe. I was getting kind of frustrated because I thought – when I started fighting my goal was to get to the UFC, and that’s what I wanted – I just thought it was never going to happen,” said Newell during an appearance on The MMA Hour.
“I always pride myself as being like very mentally strong, but I felt a little defeated. I wasn’t really happy with the way things were going, and my body was run down, and I had to take a step back and kind of reassess some things. I wanted to make sure that when I came back that I was ready for MMA at the highest level, so I took those two years and I really trained the entire time and focused on the things I needed to focus on to be ready if that shot were to come.”
Being known as the “one-handed fighter” is something Newell has accepted is just a part of his story, but a fighter is ultimately judged by their accomplishments. On Tuesday night, he’ll get the chance to add to his fighting resume.
“People either really want to see me win, or really want to see me lose for some reason. I think for the most part people have my back and they want to see me win I would say. It’s a good story. Obviously, I have a good story with me,” he said.
Newell’s story and desire to rise above expectations and ignore perceived limitations is part of why fans of the sport follow his career. His headlining bout at Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series against Alex Munoz could prove to be the biggest win of his career or the biggest disappointment.
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“I know where I stand in this sport and I know there are going to be a lot of eyes on me. If I win, it’s going to be bigger than anyone else that’s ever won on this show, and if I lose, it’s going to be worse than anyone has ever gotten on the show. And I know that. And I knew that going into this camp. And I knew that when I accepted the fight, so for me it was extra motivation to make sure everything goes right and that I’m on point for this fight,” he said.
Healthy and motivated, Newell believes he’s more prepared to enter combat than ever before in his nine-year fighting career. With back, neck, and knee issues behind him, Newell expects to impress.
“I’m feeling super comfortable. I’m feeling super great. My body has always been kind of an issue, but everything feels good. I’m running on all cylinders, and I had a great camp,” said Newell. “I just feel the best I’ve ever felt going into a fight and the most confident I’ve ever felt going into a fight.”