Nick Newell has never stopped dreaming of fighting in the UFC.
After competing in World Series of Fighting and amassing an overall record of 14-1 with his only career loss coming to Justin Gaethje, the 33-year old lightweight finally got his opportunity to prove he belonged in the world’s biggest mixed martial arts promotion this past July.
Newell, who was born a congenital amputee with a left arm that extends just past his elbow, has been battling against misconceptions about his chances to succeed in a combat sports career almost since the day he decided to become a fighter.
It seemed like he would never get his chance but UFC president Dana White finally relented on his previous stance about not signing Newell when he gave him a shot on his contender series where up and coming fighters compete for a chance to be selected to receive a UFC contract.
Unfortunately, Newell came up short in his bid to get the UFC’s attention after losing a unanimous decision to Alex Munoz last year.
Since that time, Newell has taken time off from fighting to raise his son while constantly working in the gym to get better each and everyday ahead of his eventual return to competition. On Friday, Newell fights in CES MMA — a regional promotion out of the New England area — and while his loss on the Contender Series was a setback, it’s not going to deter him from his ultimate goal.
“I’m still in the mix,” Newell said about fighting in the UFC when speaking to MMAWeekly. “I’ve talked with people from the UFC, I’ve talked with Sean [Shelby] and I’m still very much in the mix and someone that they’re definitely watching and will be watching this week. With my performance, I fought a really good guy and it wasn’t that I’m not good, he’s just very, very good.
“It wasn’t my night. I just lost the wrestling aspect of the fight. Everything else, I felt like the stand-up I was controlling and I almost had the submission but that’s the fight game. I just learn from it, accept it and move on.”
Obviously losing on the Contender Series stung but Newell never lost any motivation coming out of that fight.
If anything, he’s more determined now than ever before to accomplish his goals and the next step begins with his fight coming up on Friday.
“Obviously I want to win. I always want to win. I’ve always been motivated to win and I want to win just as much as ever,” Newell stated. “I can’t say more than ever cause there’s never been a fight where I didn’t want to win. There was one fight where I really wasn’t motivated going in and I learned my lesson because I won a really close match so I knew I had to show up more amped up, more ready.
“After this, I’d like to get the big calls from the UFC, Bellator, ONE FC, Rizin, PFL, I’d really like to get those offers and just kind of go from there.”
There’s not a doubt in Newell’s mind that he belongs amongst the best fighters in the world and he’s never wavered in that belief even when it seemed like he had to battle twice as hard to get where he wants.
In many ways, Newell is most defined by his fighting spirit and that’s why a single loss won’t stop him from going after what he’s always wanted most.
“I know I’m within one fight of the UFC,” Newell said. “I truly believe if I win this one, I’ll be in the UFC from what I’ve heard and what I’ve talked about. But who knows what kind of offers are going to come in and what’s not.
“For me, I’ve been doing this for 10 years as a pro and I’ve been training almost 20 years. For me, I don’t like to say anything before it happens or perfect things that aren’t going to happen but I know I’m one of the best in the world and I can beat anyone on any given day so I’m looking forward to getting the job done and seeing what happens after.”