It has been more than two years since one-handed fighter Nick Newell set foot in the cage to compete, but now he's back with renewed vigor, ready to show the world that he belongs in the UFC, the biggest stage in mixed martial arts.
Despite amassing a 13-1 record by late 2015 – his only loss being to lightweight standout Justin Gaethje – as Newell told MMAWeekly.com in an exclusive interview, he was growing tired both physically and mentally.
“I just had a lot of things going on at the time of my last couple of fights,” Newell told MMAWeekly.com. “My body was starting to kind of work against me. I was fighting injured up to a point where it was like seven different things at a time.
“I was kind of getting tired of the game. I still had to fight, no matter what happened to me, because I needed the money because fighting was my only source of income. I was getting a little discouraged at the time and I wanted to focus on something more long-term. My goal was to open up my own academy and go from there.”
Having taken some time away from the cage, Newell did open his own academy, grew up a little bit, and learned a lot along the way. It also gave his body some time to rejuvenate.
Feeling better than ever, Newell returns on Friday night in the LFA 35 headliner in Houston, Texas, looking not only to show he can be competitive, but to show that he can compete with the best fighters in the world.
“Right now, I'm just having fun fighting. I'm coming back and I'm gonna win this fight, but I want the biggest fights. I want to fight the best guys in the world. I'm ready. I'm good enough. I'm gonna surprise a lot of people. They know I'm good, but they don't think I'm top notch, but they're wrong,” Newell said in an interview with TMZ Sports on Friday.
In short, Newell wants a crack at the fighters on the UFC roster. Company president Dana White, despite Newell's stellar record, has said in the past that he couldn't see a path to the UFC for Newell.
“It’s hard to fight here with two arms. It’s tough. There’s guys that we bring in that are considered top guys on the Ultimate Fighter that don’t ever really pan out and make it,” said White. “I don’t know, fighting with one arm is just craziness to me.”
Newell doesn't care what other people think, he's spent his entire life defying the odds.
“I am crazy. I'm a bad ass. I'll wipe out (the UFC lightweight) division. It's not even a question. It's just getting the opportunity,” Newell continued. “Send me over the papers and it's gonna happen. It may baffle some people that there's a guy out there that only has one hand that beats people up, but to me it's not crazy because I've been working my whole life for this.”
(Video courtesy of TMZSports | Viewing may be limited by broadcast rights restrictions)