First Person

Bout time

Rising Springfield-based mixed martial arts fighter Nick Newell has nine wins, no losses — and a left arm that stops below the elbow.

Nick Newell.
Rich O'Sullivan
Nick Newell.

I was born with a congenital amputation of the left arm. I really have been like this my whole life. But no one in my family ever babied me.

I was a 2-22 freshman in high school, wrestling at 130 pounds. I think I got pinned in my first 15 matches. But I never gave up. I was like: “OK. I’m going to learn some things. I’m going to get better and keep going.” I ended up being all-state.

My old [college] roommate was Curt Hawkins — he’s in the WWE. He used to watch Monday Night Raw with all my friends, and then afterwardThe Ultimate Fightercame on. I became a fan and wanted to learn how to fight. I wanted to learn how to choke people. I wanted to learn how to strike. And I got to use my wrestling as well.


I think at first people were just interested because I was fighting with one hand. Then people realized that I was actually good. I don’t have a left cross, but I make up for it. If I’m good with my knees, elbows, kicks, and I can mix it up, it’s not as big a disadvantage as people make it out to be.

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People used to think that fighting me was a lose-lose: If you won, you beat a guy with one hand. If you lost, you lost to a guy with one hand. But not anymore really, now that my name’s more known out there. People see a lot to gain from fighting a guy like me.

I have a very tough fight ahead of me — [my opponent] is 9-1. But I don’t think he’s ready for how well rounded I am. I come to win. I come to fight. And I’m going to be on you as soon as that bell rings. — As told to Jeff Harder

Interview has been edited and condensed.

WATCH Newell faces Keon Caldwell at the World Series of Fighting 4 on Saturday at 10:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.