Nick Newell is unquestionably a special athlete. And after flirting with breaking into the big leagues for a few years, he appears to have finally found a home with Bellator MMA.
The congenital amputee may be known to fans as the fighter with one hand. But he’s also proven, time and time again, that he can hold his own in a fight. Newell (16-3) wore gold on the regional scene, fought Justin Gaethje for the WSOF lightweight title, and last year, secured his first victory in Bellator.
That came after a tough match-up on Dana White’s Contender Series against Team Alpha Male’s Alex Munoz. While that fight didn’t go his way, a multi-fight deal with Bellator is the silver lining for Nick Newell, who is now 1-1 in the promotion, and singing its praises.
“Bellator is the best. I love Bellator. I know that’s probably what I’m supposed to say. But I’m just so happy with everything they’ve done for me and the way they treated me and how they make me feel that there’s really nowhere else I want to fight,” Newell said during Tuesday’s Bellator 250 media day. “I’m with them for the for the long run.”
Case in point: Newell was originally supposed to fight Zach Zane in March, at Bellator 241. When the coronavirus pandemic arriving in the U.S. like a bat out of hell, the event was cancelled at the eleventh hour. Of course, when fighters don’t fight, they don’t get paid. Usually.
That wasn’t the case in March. The promotion paid the full card of fighters. “Bellator paid me for that fight. Paid me my full purse for that fight,” said Newell. “So it’s like, I got paid. It kind of actually went a long way to hold me over and support my family. And we got a minivan from it, which is kind of dope.”
That certainly helped when Newell had to shut down his gym for a time. His students came through as well. “It sucks that I couldn’t operate my business for so long,” admitted Newell, going on to add that “a lot of my students came through. And I had some incentives and some gear packages and private lessons and stuff that people bought, and my students are really like, ride or die.”
Now, things are back up and running, albeit with enhance safety precautions. And while he hasn’t taught any classes while in camp, Newell does believe that teaching in the gym makes him a better fighter. Perhaps it will give him an edge when he and Zane finally do meet this Thursday at Bellator 250, in a fight that Newell expects will go to the ground at some point.
Both men are essentially submission specialists, after all. Newell holds eleven submissions to his name. Zane has ten.
“I’m very confident that I can stop his takedowns and he can’t stop mine,” Newell said of his opponent. “And I’ve focused a lot [on wrestling], I’ve had a lot of really high level wrestlers in this camp.” It’s something that he had neglected in the past.
“My wrestling is looking really sharp. It’s something that I slept on in the past because like, ‘ohl I’m a wrestler, I’m good, I will win this,’ but you’ve got to keep the blade sharp,” observed Newell. “So I’ve trained with a lot of really, really good wrestlers this camp and I’m very confident.”
Watch the full Bellator 250 virtual media day press scrum with Nick Newell above.