Nick Newell to get WSOF title shot against Justin Gaethje

Saturday night Justin Gaethje beat Richard Patishnock to claim the inaugural World Series of Fighting Lightweight title. WSOF matchmaker Ali Abdelaziz announced that Nick…

By: Nate Wilcox | 9 years ago
Nick Newell to get WSOF title shot against Justin Gaethje
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Saturday night Justin Gaethje beat Richard Patishnock to claim the inaugural World Series of Fighting Lightweight title. WSOF matchmaker Ali Abdelaziz announced that Nick Newell would be Gaethje’s first challenger.

Newell talked to Jeff Sherwood about his title aspirations:

I could beat everyone in the world and there would still be people who say I suck, I am not good enough, or they don’t think I could do this or that. I have been dealing with that stuff my whole life and I just don’t listen to them. I just do my own thing. Whether you think I can or can’t it doesn’t really bother me, I am going to try and do it anyway.;

Here’s a little bit of background on Newell by way of Ben Popper’s in-depth bio on SBNation last month:

Newell was born with a congenital amputation, a shortened left arm that ends just below the elbow. It was a distinction which many felt would prevent him from succeeding in the fight game. Others argued that letting him fight two-handed opponents was downright inhumane, a freak show that shouldn’t be allowed. But Newell never listened.

For Newell, the hardest part of fighting has always been finding opponents. He grew up in Milford, a working-class beach town on the Connecticut coast. His mother, Stacey, worked as a nurse and raised Nick on her own. “I always told him he was no different, never let him avoid a challenge or hardship because of his arm,” she said. “The more we treated him like everyone else, the more he believed in himself.”

These days Newell stands an imposing 185 pounds of chiseled muscle. But when he joined the wrestling squad his freshman year of high school, he was the smallest member of the team. “I was tiny, like literally 90 pounds, so it was tough to find someone my size.” In one of his first matches there was just one competitor in his weight class, a girl, so Newell had to wrestle against her, and lost in front of his entire team and home crowd. “A really proud start to my fighting career,” he says with a laugh.

That first year as a wrestler, Newell notched two wins and 22 losses. But he never thought about quitting. Wrestling became Nick’s primary outlet, a place for him to focus. “For Nick, his coaches became sort of his father figures,” explains his mother, Stacey. “They were the ones who helped to shape him and channel his drive.” Despite his small stature and shortened arm, Newell improved quickly. His physical handicap forced him to focus on his technique. By his senior year of high school, he set a state record with 53 wins, going all-state.

Newell went on to college at Western New England, where he was captain of the wrestling team. There he befriended a young man named Brian Myers who shared his passion for the theatrics of Pro Wrestling. In fact, Myers, better known as Curt Hawkins, went on to a successful career in the WWE. As college roommates, the pair would obsess over wrestling on TV. Just after Monday night wrestling finished, a mixed martial arts reality show called The Ultimate Fighter would come on. “Seeing that, I knew it was something I had to try,” says Newell.

Newell took to twitter for some good-natured joshing with the champ:

Update by Brent Brookhouse: Not so fast on the title shot, at least until WSOF talks to both camps, per this Bleacher Report article:

“I said this is a fight, I think Nick Newell deserves it, but I have to talk to both camps,” Abdelaziz told Bleacher Report. “It’s going to be a timing issue.”

“I don’t know if Nick Newell will want to wait this long—until June or July,” Abdelaziz said. “I just have to be sure both guys agree and it fits our TV schedule. It has to make sense all around because it’s such a big fight. It would go down in the summer, but it’s not confirmed yet.”

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About the author
Nate Wilcox
Nate Wilcox

Nate Wilcox is the founding editor of As such he has hired every editor and writer to work for the site. Wilcox’s writing for BE is known for its emphasis on MMA history, the evolution of fighting techniques and strong opinions. Wilcox developed the SBN MMA consensus rankings which were featured in USA Today from 2009 to 2011. Before founding BE, Wilcox was a political operative working for such figures as Senators John Kerry and Mark Warner and an early political blogger. He is the co-author of Netroots Rising, a history of the political blogosphere from 2003 to 2007. Wilcox also hosts the Let It Roll podcast on music history for the Pantheon Podcast Network.

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