No pressure: Nick Newell ready to capitalize on one shot to impress Bellator

Nick Newell has fought three times in his home state of Connecticut, but he’s never had a hometown fight.

That’s about to change next Saturday, and under circumstances unusual for most fighters of his experience and recognition.

When Newell, a former XFC and WSOF title challenger, meets Corey Browning at Bellator 225, he’ll have one shot to make an impression with the promotion, which has signed him to a one-fight deal.

Without a win, Newell’s MMA career will take a significant blow. And yet, he’s feeling good about his position heading into the fight, his second since an appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series went the other way.

“I think where I’m at is a good spot,” Newell told MMA Junkie. “But where I’ll be after I win this fight is even better. So I feel like I can get a better deal after this win.”

Newell’s goals didn’t change despite falling short on a platform that could have launched him into the UFC. He fought hard just to get the opportunity, initially dismissed by promotion president Dana White because he’s missing half of one arm before a change of heart. He got no favors once in the cage, facing undefeated up-and-comer Alex Munoz, who has yet to compete since beating Newell (15-2 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) last year.

“I fought that a guy that there’s not a lot to be known about him,” Newell said. “He’s a world-class fighter, and he’s going to do big things in the sport. It was a good fight. I thought it was a close fight. It sucks when you don’t win fights, but that’s the game.

“Now I’m fighting in the big leagues, and I’m ready to go.”

Browning (4-1 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) is no stranger to stopping fighters with hype. He took out “Gordie Shore” star Aaron Chalmers in his previous Bellator outing, and prior to that stopped “Baby Slice” Kevin Ferguson Jr.

Newell welcomes the challenge. He wants to make a living for his family, which now includes a young son. On numerous occasions, he said, he was in talks with Bellator but never signed a contract.

“I’m using it as an audition, and after I get the job done, I would like to work on a long-term contract,” Newell said.

The promotion gave Newell several hundred tickets in advance of the event, and he sold all of them. It’s the first time he’ll get to experience the thrill of being the hometown favorite, even though several of his friends and family have traveled to see him fight.

“It’s something I’ve experienced before, and a lot of people like my story and can relate to me, so usually, I’m able to get the crowd behind me,” Newell said.

All of them will be tuned out, however, when it actually comes time to work. There’s a lot on the line, and Newell can’t afford a slip-up. The goal is to finish the fight, not get hurt and start working his way up.

“I want to make the best living for my family, and I want to fight on the big shows,” he said. “Bellator is answering all those questions, and I get to fight 10 minutes from my house.”

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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