Following his win over Jason Hicks this past February at XFC 22, lightweight Scott “Hot Sauce” Holtzman was anticipating facing reigning 155-pound champion Nick Newell for his title, but it was not meant to be.
Just weeks out from the title fight, Newell informed the XFC of his desire to not fight Holtzman. XFC promoter John Prisco stated that it was because Newell wanted to face only former UFC fighters.
Since then, Newell has been stripped of his title and proclaimed that he shall not fight for the XFC again. He will instead be selecting a new home to help him along to his eventual goal of fighting in the UFC.
Holtzman will still get a title shot, but he will now face John Mahlow for the vacant lightweight championship at XFC 24 on Friday, June 14, in Tampa, Fla.
“Obviously I was pretty upset at first because well before the number one contender fight the road map was laid out for the title fight and everything,” said Holtzman. “Nick knew, the organization told him and told all of us that whoever won the number one contender fight would fight Newell.
“I felt like the road map was very clear and I felt like he was a bit unprofessional in not expressing his unhappiness or unwillingness to fight earlier on.”
When asked if he felt Newell was scared to face him, Holtzman replied, “I don’t know if he was genuinely scared of me, but I just think he thought it was a bad career move for him because he knew that I presented some problems match-up-wise, especially for a 4-0 guy.
“I think at the end of the day it’s him trying to protect his record. And if he is going to take a loss, he wants to take it to a big-name guy, whereas I’m only 4-0 and not really a big name.”
Rather than dwell on the disappointment in not facing Newell, Holtzman instead decided to focus on the possibilities of what comes next.
“It was a little trying, but I knew that it would work out,” said Holtzman. “I always try to stay positive.
“I allowed myself to get upset over it for a day, and then the next day we started talking about possible routes outside of Nick Newell once it was clear he probably wasn’t going to take the fight. I’ve kind of moved on and put him in the rear view mirror for now.”
Holtzman told MMAWeekly.com that his new opponent, John Mahlow, presents just as much challenge as Newell would have.
“He’s a tough, rugged veteran. He’s been five rounds before and gotten a win. It’s definitely a dangerous fight for sure,” said Holtzman. “He’s a dangerous guy and I’ll have to bring it. I’m expecting the fight of my life as always.”
Holtzman feels this whole incident will ultimate be a positive, rather than negative, impact on his career.
“I think when all is said and done it will be good for me,” he said. “That’s what this game’s all about: take each fight, test yourself and see where you measure up.
“I think it’s a bigger step than a majority of 4-0 guys would normally take, but I signed up to fight and that’s what I’m going to do.”