The story of Nick Newell is nothing if not inspirational.
Newell was born with congenital amputation of his left arm, which ends just below his elbow. Looking at his accomplishments, you would never know it. Nick started wrestling in high school, he thought about quitting after his very first session saying it was “the hardest thing I had done in my life” but pushed by his mother, he stuck with it. Newell went on to win over 300 matches between high school and college.
Newells introduction to MMA came in college where his roommate was WWE wrestler Curt Hawkins. The two would watch The Ultimate Fighter together, which came on right after WWE Raw, and it was then that Nick was inspired to take up fighting.
His early career was a struggle because many other fighters didn’t want to fight a man with one arm. In 2011 Newell signed with XFC (Extreme Fighting Championships) where he won 3 fights in a row and received a lightweight title shot against Bellator vet Eric Reynolds. He won that fight by submission in the first round and became the XFC lightweight champion.
Newell was scheduled to defend his belt against Scott Holtzman, but turned the fight down saying he only wanted to fight ex UFC fighters. He was subsequently stripped.
In 2013 Newell signed with World Series of Fighting. After winning his first two fights with the promotion Nick was given a lightweight title shot against then WSOF lightweight champion Justin Gaethje. Gaethje would hand Newell his first professional loss, knocking him out in the second round. Newell rebounded from the loss, winning two more fights with WSOF before announcing his retirement from MMA on October 17th, 2015.
That brings us to the present day. On March 9th, 2018 Newell returned from retirement to fight Sonny Luque in a lightweight main event at LFA 35 in Houston. Newell won by a face crank submission in the very first round.
After the fight Nick called for a UFC shot saying; “Life is a cold hard place. It will chew you up and spit you out, but if you make it your bitch, you can do anything. You can either become a victim of circumstances or you can create your own. I’m out here, I’m creating my own circumstances. I’m one of the best fighters in the world and I belong in the UFC. That’s it. That’s final. I gave you 14 reasons why I belong in the UFC. I’m one of the best fighters in the world and I proved it 14 times.”
In the past Dana White has expressed doubt about Newells ability to hang in the UFC, but at 14-1 as a professional fighter I think he has earn the chance to prove he can. If he hasn’t let his disability hold him back, then no one else should either.