When Justin Gathje became the first person to not only defeat, but stop Nick Newell in a lightweight championship bout at WSOF 11 earlier this month, it appeared a couple knee strikes Gaethje threw at Newell in the first round could have been illegal. But from the camera angle on NBC, it was hard to tell for sure. The commentators nor the referee ever said a word about it though. Now Newell is saying there definitely was an illegal knee that cut him and changed the momentum of the fight.
Newell’s words (via Sherdog):
“It’s not something that is up for debate. It’s very blatant that the knees hit me in the head. I wasn’t the same. It’s obvious when you watch the video that it’s what cut me. It’s obvious that, when I got up, I was wobbly, and they need to closely monitor who they hire as referees, and they need to have stricter standards.”
Newell feels he was winning the fight up until he got hit with the knees:
“I’m not saying that I would have won had it not happened. I respect Justin. He’s a great fighter, but I was winning the fight up until it did happen, and it happened, and it changed the fight. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It was a huge momentum swing. It went from me winning, to me just getting destroyed. I don’t even remember the fight after the knee. I don’t remember anything my corner said to me or anything.”
Newell would like either an immediate rematch against Gaethje, or win one more to get back in title contention:
“I’m not mad at Justin. I want to fight whoever wins between him and Melvin. I want the belt. The belt is what motivates me. But I would rather have a rematch with Justin, rather than fight Melvin… That’s purely based off the fact that he has beaten me. Isn’t that what everyone wants? To wipe the slate clean? I am more determined than ever.”
If you missed the Newell vs. Gaethje fight, watch it below, then give us your thoughts on if you think the knee changed the momentum. Would Gaethje have won the fight anyway, and does Newell deserve the rematch? Let’s hear your thoughts.
Read the full interview with Nick Newell over at Sherdog.com.