BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – According to Nick Newell, Bellator 225 was nothing short of a dream come true.
For starters, there’s no building Newell (16-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) would rather have competed in Saturday night more than Webster Arena in Bridgeport, Conn., just a few minutes from where he grew up and still lives.
On the prelims, Newell defeated Corey Browing (5-3 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) by first-round arm-triangle choke. The victory received arguably the biggest pop of the evening from the fans.
A choked-up Newell spoke to the media following the bout and tried his best to describe the emotions he was going through after, what he called, the biggest fight of his career.
“I’m trying to really hold back the emotion,” Newell said. “I’m probably going to start crying. Sometimes, it’s not a big deal to a lot of people, but I’ve come a really long way.”
“… I drive past this arena every day. I live closer than the hotel Bellator had us stay at. I literally live 10 minutes away. It’s my dream to fight in this arena. I know it sounds silly to some, but not to me. I grew up in this area. I’ve been here my whole life. I’m still here.”
The bout was Newell’s debut in Bellator, and while he hopes to return to the organization for his next outing, nothing is certain. Unlike other notable Bellator competitors, Newell signed a one-fight contract with the promotion. No further fights are guaranteed.
“I begged Bellator for this opportunity,” Newell said. “Literally, I was begging them – tweeting them nonstop. Thank you, Rich Chou, (who) gave me the opportunity.”
Newell was complimentary of the vibe he experienced with the promotion and said he’d be meeting sitting down with president Scott Coker and matchmaker Chou in the near future.
“I’d like to negotiate the multi-fight deal, but that’s not my job,” Newell said. “That’s my management team’s job and they’re going to do what they think is best.”
Newell’s career trajectory hasn’t always been an upward incline. Between two tough losses suffered at pivotal points in his career and hesitation from network executives and promoters to sign him, Newell has endured a rollercoaster tenure in MMA.
“I’ve won a lot of fights,” Newell said. “I’ve lost and I’ve been counted out. I’ve been saying that all I want to do is in the big leagues. All I want is an opportunity. And I’ve had opportunities and I’ve failed. But I kept working. I kept grinding. I stayed the course. I didn’t quit. I told myself I wasn’t good enough sometimes. And my team lifted me back up. My family lifted me back up. I don’t do anything, but this.”
After Newell displayed his toughness in a brutal beatdown by Justin Gaethje on national television in a WSOF title shot in 2014, he rebounded. Following a three-year retirement, Newell returned to competition in 2018.
On the heels of a large social media campaign to get Newell into the UFC, he got a shot on Dana White’s Contender Series. Newell lost, but decided the best way to continue was to not give up.
Competing with one hand as professional fighter might seem unique to some, but Newell thinks it’s his other qualities that make him different from the rest of the pack.
“Fighting me, there’s nobody on this earth like me,” Newell said. “Nobody. And I’m not just talking about my hand. I’m talking about what’s in here. I’m talking about everything about me. I truly believe that I’m one of a kind. There are definitely some badasses out there that have on hand. There’s tons of them.
“All I’m saying is I’m a very unique person and I appreciate this opportunity.”
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: After dream come true at Bellator 225, emotional Nick Newell hopes to stick around