Following a year away from MMA, featherweight prospect Jesse “Powder” Newell returned to fighting this past May with an impressive 40-second knockout of Richard Schiller.
“After the layoff it felt great to get back in there and test the waters again,” Newell told MMAWeekly.com. “To pull off a victory, especially in that fashion was surreal and dream-like.”
For Newell (7-2), the year off followed a previous two-year sabbatical while he dealt with personal issues. Having worked past them, he feels his most recent return to fighting has produced the best results in his career.
“It was one of the first times going into a fight that I wasn’t questioning myself if I had put the work in, if I had done enough in the gym, if I got my diet right, if I did enough cardio and sparred enough,” he said. “All those questions that come about leading up to a fight, in this last fight didn’t happen, knowing that I put the work in.
“I had great confidence in my game that I was going to leave with that W come hell or high water because I definitely put the work in.”
Newell’s efforts have paid off, as he’s scheduled to face Chris Cully (16-10) Friday night at the Commerce Casino in Commerce, Calif., at BAMMA USA: Badbeat 10 for the featherweight championship.
“He’s got good stand-up and trains with really good fighters, but so do I, so I feel we’re pretty even in the stand-up,” said Newell of Culley. “I know he’s got good kicks, so I’ve been training on those.
“I know he’s been training his jiu-jitsu game in this camp, but I feel my jiu-jitsu game will be superior because of who I train with and who I’m taught by. I also come from an extensive wrestling background and have wrestling since I was six years old, so if he gets too close, he’s going to end up on his back.”
With the fight scheduled to broadcast live to 5.6 million homes on KILM TV in the Los Angeles and San Bernardino areas (along with an additional 2 million on Channel 3 Dish Network in California and Nevada), Newell is anticipating this fight to be the biggest in his career and dictate where he goes from here on out.
“The fight will be televised, and (Culley and I are) both looking to get to the next level, so it adds a little pressure to both of us,” said Newell. “This is a make or break fight for either one of us, so I know we’re both going to go in there and put in 110-percent and put on a great fight for the crowd.
“Definitely for both of us, it’s a big next step for whoever gets the W.”