“Notorious” Nick Newell’s record tells of many accomplishments the 25-year-old has achieved in his relatively short time as an MMA fighter.
But perhaps his most significant accomplishment is the fact that Newell competes despite being born a congenital amputee, which resulted in his left arm ending just past the elbow.
That’s right, Nick Newell (5-0) is a pro MMA fighter who only has one arm.
Ever since he was a kid though, Newell has not let the reality he was forced to accept determine the outcome of the future he so desires.
Growing up, Newell played multiple sports despite his disability, but it wasn’t until he began wrestling that he found his true passion, which ultimately led him to MMA.
Newell is currently 5-0 in his professional career with all of his wins coming in the first round, and on December 2, Newell will look to extend his undefeated streak when he takes on Denis Hernandez (3-2) at XFC 15.
“XFC 15: Tribute” will take place at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla. and will be broadcast LIVE on HDNet at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT).
ProMMAnow.com’s (www.prommanow.com) Josh Cross recently spoke to Newell about this upcoming fight, why he has trouble finding opponents and what he thinks about the attention he gets from being an MMA fighter with only one arm.
PRO MMA NOW: Can you talk about what it was like growing up as a congenital amputee and what some of the challenges you dealt with as a kid?
NICK NEWELL: You know as a kid I was obviously different, but I wasn’t really babied when I was a child. I was encouraged to participate and be involved in activities by my mother. I never really let anyone push me around or anything like that. I just take things the way they are and these are the cards I’m dealt, this is how I am, and I’m not ashamed of it. I’m proud of the way I am.
PRO MMA NOW: You wrestled in high school and have basically played sports all of your life, can you talk about that and how you became involved in MMA?
NICK NEWELL: The first sport I played as a kid was soccer, and I was pretty good at it. Then I wanted to play baseball, so my mom signed me up. At first I wasn’t the best baseball player, but I went to camp and worked hard to get better. I’ve never really been called a natural at anything, but I’ve always been that guy that will show up and won’t leave until he has it down. I’m never satisfied. I can always be better and that’s the mentality that I have and that is what drives me. Later on in baseball, I was on the all-star team the last couple of years I played. I also played basketball for a while, but ultimately wrestling was my passion. I started when I was in high school and I fell in love with it and then it just blossomed into me becoming a mixed martial artist.
PRO MMA NOW: Now you have said that you have a hard time finding people who are willing to fight you. Why do you that that it’s so hard for you to find an opponent?
NICK NEWELL: It’s hard for me to find opponents because people don’t want to lose to me. I don’t look at it as a lose-lose situation or most people don’t. People will fight the guys that are 0-15 even though if they lose it will have been to a guy who was 0-15. They don’t care. They just use [my disability] as an excuse to not fight me because they know that I probably will beat them. If I had a losing record I’m sure I wouldn’t have any problem finding fights, but the fact of the matter is that I’m good and I’m a threat. That’s why people don’t want to fight me.
PRO MMA NOW: What would you say to someone who thinks that it’s too dangerous for you to be out there fighting with just one arm?
NICK NEWELL: People that say that I shouldn’t be doing this obviously have never had passions. They have never had something that they really wanted to do or they have never really followed their dream. They just look at it from their perspective, because if they were like me, they would give up on themselves. I’m not giving up. I never doubted myself and no one around me ever doubted me. If I sucked so bad and it was so easy to beat me up then why don’t they do it?
PRO MMA NOW: Do you ever get tired of all of the attention that is placed on the fact that you are a one armed MMA fighter, or do you welcome it in hope that it will be an inspiration to others?
NICK NEWELL: You know I didn’t start doing MMA to be like, “Look at me. I have one hand and I’m doing it.” I started doing it because it was something that I enjoy. I don’t look at myself as a guy with one hand that fights MMA. I look at myself as a guy that fights MMA who happens to have one hand. I’ve come to terms that I’m always going to be known as that guy, and there is really nothing that I can do about it, but if there are people out there that are doubting themselves and they use my example to help inspire them, then I think that is awesome. That gives me a level of satisfaction beyond any win or anything like that. Everyone has odds and barriers that they have to overcome and if you can use someone else as an example then I think that is a good thing.
PRO MMA NOW: Now you have an upcoming fight at XFC 15. Can you talk a little bit about your training camp and how that is going in preparation for that bout?
NICK NEWELL: My training camp has been going well. I think I would beat the crap out of the Nick Newell that fought a couple of months ago. I’m really finding a rhythm and a style. My coach and I are really a great fit. I think that we have really come up with a style of fighting and game planning that is going to be really effective. I’m still with Jeremy Libiszewski out of Fighting Arts Academy (FAA) in Springfield, Massachusetts. I went to college up there, but I’m not from that area, and I go up there and stay at his house. We’re family and he has put a lot of time into making me a better fighter. He does that with all of his fighters though. He just cares a lot and he knows a lot too. I think that is what makes him such a good coach. During the week I go to Ultimate MMA in North Haven, Connecticut. I’ve been going there for a while. For strength and conditioning I go to Fitness Concepts and they have really helped me out. I’m all over the place, but my home base is FAA though.
PRO MMA NOW: How much do you know about your opponent Denis Hernandez, and how do you feel that you two match up going into this fight?
NICK NEWELL: From what I’ve seen on YouTube, Denis Hernandez is a very talented fighter. He prefers the ground game, but in a fight you never know what to expect. I’ve seen his standup and it didn’t look that bad. It’s kind of hard to guess what to expect out of the guy, but I train for everything. I train with excellent grapplers. I train with D-1 All-American wrestlers. I train with Muay Thai fighters. Anything he brings my way is not going to be something that I’ve never seen before. I’ll be ready and I’m very confident in myself. I get excited for stuff like this. The fact that it’s going to be on TV and there are going to be all of these people around makes me even more excited to fight. It makes me want that win even more, so when that cage door closes he better be ready for a fight.
PRO MMA NOW: With all five of your previous fights ending in the first round, do you think this fight will make it out of the first, and if so, how comfortable are you with your cardio?
NICK NEWELL: People have asked that and I don’t train for one round fights. I train for a five round fight so I can fight a three round fight. Anything can happen. You can get hit with a good body shot and it could take something out of you, but I’m ready for it. You’ll see the same Nick Newell come out for the third round as you will see come out for the first round except I’ll actually be better because I’ll have my timing down and I’ll be more relaxed. I’m just as dangerous in the third round as I am in the first round and I think that the fact that I’ve finished my fights in the first round is a compliment to my skill and not so much my lack of cardio. If I can finish it fast I’m happy, but if it goes three rounds I’ll be ready. I know Denis is a tough guy so I’m ready for anything.
PRO MMA NOW: Are there any specific goals or things you want to accomplish moving forward in your MMA career?
NICK NEWELL: Right now with fighting my goal is strictly to be the best. I work hard for it and I don’t doubt myself. I know my abilities and I know I can hang in with a lot of the top guys in the world. I think that I haven’t proven that yet, but there is only one way to find out and that is to go out there and give it a shot. I believe that one day I will be up there with the top guys in the world. I know a lot of people have a hard time believing it, but I can tell you that it is going to happen. I work hard for this. It started off as a hobby and something fun, but not anymore. It is fun for me still, but I do this to win. I take this seriously and this is my life. This isn’t a joke to me. It’s very serious and I foresee myself being a serious threat and I think I’m going to open up a lot of eyes with my fighting skill.
PRO MMA NOW: Are there any sponsors you want plug or people you might want to thank?
NICK NEWELL: I’d like to thank Overthrow Gear, Clinch Gear, and Fitness Concepts for sponsoring me. I want to plug Tap Cancer Out, which is a charity that my friend runs. I would also just like to thank everyone that helps me train, my family and friends, and all of my supporters on Facebook and Twitter. It really helps me to see everyone who is cheering me on especially when I have those hard days training and I feel real beat up. That just really motivates me to go out there even more and really take this.
PRO MMA NOW: What would you say would be the best way for fans to keep track of your career and what you’ve got coming up?