CHICAGO – A 14-1 record with 11 finishes certainly didn’t hurt Nick Newell’s chances of being called into Dana White’s Contender Series in hopes of getting a UFC shot.
But ultimately, it seems it was getting on a plane and getting to state his case in person that finally swayed UFC President Dana White to hear him out.
“We met face to face, and he told me how long he’s been in the sport, who he trains with, what he’s done,” White said this past weekend while in Chicago for UFC 225. “And he’s like, ‘If you don’t believe me, if you don’t think I’m good enough, then at least let me try the Contender Series. So I said, ‘Fair enough.’ …
“They were very smart in flying out and meeting with me face to face. This kid’s been working his whole life, training, and he’s telling me that he can – this kid fought Justin Gaethje and went two rounds with Justin Gaethje when Justin Gaethje was on fire.”
Newell (14-1) is part of part of the Dana White’s Contender Series 14 event on July 24. As we know, though, there is more to the conversation than just his impressive pro record.
Newell also happens to be a congenital amputee. And while missing his left hand hasn’t stopped him from racking up wins with XFC, WSOF and recently LFA, it has also sparked all sorts of debate as to how safe it would be for him to compete at the highest level.
In 2011 Newell made it as far as the interview portion of “The Ultimate Fighter 14” before being turned down. In 2012 he had to hear White saying fighting with one arm seemed like “just craziness” to him. Still, the fighter persisted and amassed a 13-1 record – the loss coming to then-champ Gathje at WSOF 11 – by 29 before going into a retirement that lasted almost three years.
Newell, now 32, returned with a bang: In March, he submitted Sonny Luque in the first round of their LFA 35 headliner. He immediately made his case as to why he belonged in the UFC, stating, “You can either become a victim of circumstances, or you can create your own.”
With that, the rally for Newell to get his UFC shot grew louder, gaining supporters like Gaethje himself. And the campaigning and persistence paid off, at least partially, in April, when it was announced that the 32-year-old “Notorious” had earned a spot in White’s weekly event series.
Even if it seems to come with some pause.
“The big thing is, if anything ever happened to Nick Newell, if Nick Newell fights in the UFC, first thing they’re going to say is, ‘How could you let a guy with one arm fight in the UFC? You’re an idiot,’” White said. “I’m saying, what if something bad happened?
“‘Aren’t you guys supposed to be the best? All the best fighters in the world are in the UFC. So you’re going to throw a guy with one arm, fighting guys with two arms?’ You know what I’m saying. You guys know how to be negative. You know the negative stuff will happen if something bad happened. Might even be some of you to write it.”
When it comes to public perception, White is right in that there is a risk. But, as MMAjunkie’s own Ben Fowlkes argued, in this day and age, leaving out a fighter based on the way he was born, and not on what he’s delivered, doesn’t make for a great look either.
Enter the reward part: Should Newell do what he’s done 14 times in the past and walk away with a win, that can be a pretty inspiring message that the UFC gets to help relay.
White, however, said this is not about reaping rewards for himself.
“To be honest with you, I’m not doing this for me or for the organization or anything like that,” White said. “I’m doing it for this kid. This kid came in and begged – this is his dream, this is what he lives for, and this is what this guy has worked his whole life to do.
“He wants it so bad. And I’m sitting there going, ‘This is crazy, man, but I’m going to do it. I’m going to give you your chance.’”
The second season of Dana White’s Contender Series kicks off on Tuesday. The eight-event run takes place at The Ultimate Fighter Gym in Las Vegas and streams on UFC Fight Pass.
To hear from White regarding Newell, check out the video above. And check out his full scrum below.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Dana White says Nick Newell's DWCS spot is not about himself or UFC: 'I’m doing it for this kid'