EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 12, 2012

MMA: Despite having just one arm, Nick Newell deserves title shot

On Mixed Martial Arts
Mike McMahon

---- — Nick Newell was born with a left arm that ends just below his elbow.

The current XFC lightweight fighter was born with a condition called congenital amputation, which means his arm never fully developed due to a lack of blood supply.

Even with just a single arm, Newell is a mixed martial arts fighter, and a fine one at that.

The 26-year-old from Springfield is 8-0 as a professional, picking up a win over David Mays on the XFC 19 card last weekend in North Carolina. Seven of Newell’s eight wins have come via finish, with six submissions and two knockouts.

His devastating knockout over Mays — which, like many other Newell videos, quickly went viral on the Internet — will likely earn him a shot at XFC lightweight champion Eric Reynolds later this year.

Newell had a built-in excuse, but he’s never let his handicap get in the way of becoming a premiere athlete.

It was at Western New England College that Newell, a high school and college wrestling star, fell in love with MMA.

His roommate was Brian Myers, who now wrestles for WWE as Curt Hawkins. Myers kept their dorm room television glued to WWE’s “Monday Night Raw” program every week.

Following “Raw,” then televised on Spike TV, was a new show produced by the UFC, “The Ultimate Fighter,” where several aspiring fighters entered a house, trained and fought for a UFC contract.

“I was like, ‘Wow, this is like the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.’ I’m like, ‘I have to do this,’” Newell told MMAJunkie.com radio.

After graduating, Newell began planting the seeds of his MMA career.

He went 2-1 as an amateur. His biggest challenge wasn’t winning fights, though, it was simply getting fights. For most of his opponents, it was a lose-lose situation.

If they won, so what? They beat the one-armed fighter. If they lost, well, then they lost to a one-armed fighter.

Newell says one fighter no-showed the weigh-in to avoid getting in the cage.

Maybe he was the smart one.

After all, Newell has carved up every opponent he’s stepped into the cage with as a pro. All seven of his finishes have come in the first round, and YouTube clips of his fights have made him an Internet sensation, with the videos combining for approximately 5 million hits.

Now, even more eyes are on him.

XFC fights have landed him on Mark Cuban’s HDNet and last Thursday he was featured on Spike TV’s “MMA Uncensored,” which also ran a segment on UFC heavyweight contender Allistair Overeem.

His story sounds like a Hollywood script — but there hasn’t always been YoTube clips and television spots.

“I’ve never been a natural at anything I do,” he said in his radio interview. “When I first started wrestling, I got murdered. I know what it’s like to be on that losing end. I know what it’s like to not be good and to be counted out and to have people think, ‘Oh, this guy sucks’ or whatever.

“I don’t ever want that again. And that’s why I keep grinding and keep trying, and why I fight smart. I’ll never forget what it’s like to not be considered a winner. And that’s why I work so hard and fighting means so much to me.”

The Nick Newell File Name: "Notorious" Nick Newell Height: 5-foot-10 Weight: 155 pounds Reach: 74 inches From: Milford, Conn. Fighting out of: Springfield, Mass. Record: 8-0 (2 KOs, 6 submissions) Team: Fighting Arts Academy To see a highlight of Nick Newell's devastating knockout win over David May's from last week's XFC 19 card, visit youtube.com/watch?v=qG4BJEu-zsU