When the World Series of Fighting returns to action tonight for WSOF 4 tonight Ontario, California it will mark the promotional debut of Nick Newell. Known for only having one full arm, Newell has shown he is just fine without it en route to a 9-0 record as a professional. MMAFrenzy caught up with Newell prior to tonight’s bout to talk about his WSOF debut, opponent Keon Caldwell, his status as a role model, and more.
This will be your first fight with the WSOF after successful runs in the XFC and Cage Titans, how excited are you to make your debut?
It is a big stage and the stakes are high. I am super excited to debut. It is awesome man, I can’t wait to show everyone what I can do.
Have the additional media obligations been a distraction?
Definitely, there’s a lot more attention and a lot more media but it comes with the territory when you move to a bigger league and have bigger fights. More people paying attention, more media, more interviews but I don’t mind.
What stands out to you about tonight’s opponent in TUF 13 veteran Keon Caldwell?
He’s tough. Definitely one of my toughest fights. He is young and a great athlete, also hits like a truck.
People, for better or worse, tend to recognize you for your congenitally amputated arm but you have been in sports for a long time, was wrestling your first sport?
My first sport was soccer, I played that as a kid. Then I played baseball, and I was actually a better baseball player than soccer. By the time I got to high school I was pretty much bored with both, so I made a decision to do wrestling and now I do MMA.
How important was your family in your athletic career growing up?
My family has always been very supportive me. They have always had my back with what I want to do. As long as I am working hard and giving it everything I got, I have their full support.
How does it feel to be mentioned with people like former Yankees pitcher Jim Abbott and 2011 NCAA Division 1 champion Anthony Robles as a role model for those with amputations?
It is an honor and it’s really cool. It is like I get to fight and that’s the ice cream, the fact I get to inspire other people is the chocolate sundae, you know? [That said] I don’t do this to be like “Oh look at me!” I do this because I love it and I am proud that people see I really am passionate about it.
Your striking has really improved since you started fighting, what else have you worked on to become a better fighter?
I work on everything. I have been wrestling since I was 14 and now I am 27 and I still train it. I do jiu-jitsu as well. Most importantly I am working blending my jiu-jitsu into my striking, my wrestling into my jiu-jitsu, etc. Just trying to mix it all together and become a complete martial artist.
Early in your career it you mentioned that people were often unwilling to fight you because of your arm, have you noticed a change as your career has progressed and you have had success?
Yeah man, I am not fighting wannabe tough guys and jabronies anymore. I am fighting some of the best guys in the world. They don’t care I only have one hand. They just want to fight, get paid, and raise their stock by beating me.
There has been some talk of a lightweight tournament coming up, have you found that to be a distraction?
It is not a distraction because it is not part of the equation yet. If it was my focus now it would be a problem as I should be focused on my opponent and that is it.
Be sure to tune in tonight at 10:30PM ET on the NBC Sports Network to see Newell’s promotional debut tonight at WSOF 4 and be sure to follow him on twitter @NotoriousNewell. Tonight’s fight card features a solid lineup with kickboxing great Tyrone Spong taking on Angel DeAnda in the main event. Saturday’s billing also features WSOF president Ray Sefo taking on Dave Huckba, as well as the return of talented bantamweight Marlon Moraes.