One-armed phenom states his case for the big league
If you don't know who Nick Newell is, you should. He is the current XFC lightweight champion and undefeated (9-0) fighter who has won by a variety of submissions and knockouts, and, oh yeah, he's done it all with only one arm.
Newell was born with congenital amputation, causing his left arm to be cut off below the elbow. However that hasn't stopped him from climbing his way up the MMA ladder in any promotion thus far, except for the big one.
"Never, no," White said of the possibility. "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. Will the state of Nevada let him fight? Will the state of California let him fight? Would some of these bigger athletic commissions let him fight? Maybe he can get away with that in some of these other states. I don't know, fighting with one arm is just craziness to me."
Newell was recently interviewed on Ariel Helwani's The MMAHour, where he responded and pleaded with White for his shot:
"I've already been licensed in Nevada, so that's not really an issue. At all. It kinda disappoints me that someone that's such a powerful figure in this sport feels that way or looks at me that way."
"[The UFC] is where you can test yourself against the best guys in the world. I want to see where I stand among the world's elite fighters and I feel like I've earned my shot. Anyone else with my track record would be getting looked at, but it's due to outside circumstances."
"I don't get discouraged too much about things like that. I'm not going anywhere in this sport. I'm good. A lot of those guys in the UFC, just because they're in the UFC doesn't mean they can beat me. I think I match up really well with a lot of people in there.
The one-armed phenom also brought up the fact the fact that the UFC has brought women's MMA into the fold of the promotion:
"[White] wants to talk about how he wants to give people equal opportunity - to women, to gay fighters and stuff like that. Well, I'd like my equal opportunity as well."
Dana White brought up a good point, it's crazy to fight in a sport with full contact combat with only one arm. And he's right it is crazy. You know what's even crazier? The fact that Nick Newell is winning, and doing so in extremely impressive form.
Newel has won by knockout do to a knee, armbar, and a rear naked choke. He's also won by a heel hook, which as any MMA fighter or BJJ grappler will tell you is hard enough to pull off, let alone do so with one arm.
Some may bring up the level of competition Newell has fought, which is true, simply because no one has given him a shot to fight the best of the best. In his last win, where he won the XFC title, he defeated Eric Reynolds by submission. Before the fight, Reynolds was a seasoned competitor at 19-4 who had previously fought the likes of UFC veteran Rob Emerson and Strikeforce's Jorge Masvidal. It even took former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez three rounds to defeat Reynolds, where as Newell ended it in the first round.
Throughout sports we have seen athletes with extreme handicaps triumph through great deals of afflictions. We've seen Jim Abbott pitch in MLB, and even throw a no hitter with only one hand. We've seen amateur wrestler Anthony Robles go 36-0 in 2010-2011, and then win the 125-pound weight class in the NCAA championship with only one leg. We've even already seen a handicap fighter in the UFC, in Matt Hamill who is deaf.
You see, fighting with one arm is indeed crazy. Some would even call it unimaginable to do so at the UFC level. But that's how all underdog stories start off isn't it? When someone doubts another or says "Are you insane? That's impossible". That's what Nick Newell is, he's an underdog, perhaps one of the biggest ever. At one point in time so were Robles and Abbott, the difference being someone gave them a shot. One can only hope that in due time, when Newell continues to win against all odds, Dana White will finally take notice and let a truly great story unfold in the octagon.