Nick Newell (pictured) entered the sport of mixed martial arts understanding and accepting the fact that he would have a definitive disadvantage against any and all opponents. Newell was born with congenital amputation of his left arm, which ends just below his elbow.
While all of his opposition would have access to two vicious fists, he would only have his right hand and a stub at the end of his left arm. That would deter most people from attempting many things in life, particularly cage fighting, but it was more than enough for Newell.
Stockpiling over 300 wins throughout his high school and collegiate wrestling career gave him the confidence push his body to the absolute limits. He started his pro MMA career in 2009 and never looked back.
It was a rough road for Newell at the outset, not because he wasn’t good enough, because he was after winning his first 11 fights, but it was because people didn’t want to face a one-armed fighter. It was the epitome of a lose-lose situation: Who can’t beat a guy with one arm? Wait, you lost to someone with one arm?
But as the Ws continued to mount, Newell’s missing left hand became the driving force behind an inspirational story. Newell wasn’t merely using his wrestling pedigree to lay-and-pray on his opponents to walk away with decision wins gift wrapped by the judges, he was finishing off his victims (8 submissions and 2 KOs, to just 3 decisions).
After taking the XFC title in his ninth pro bout, Newell got the call up to Wold Series of Fighting, the third-largest MMA promotion in America. After two submission wins, he found himself in a title tilt.
While Newell came up short against Justin Gaethje for the WSOF lightweight belt, which marks the lone blemish on his resume, the fact that he got to that point is a victory in itself. Who knows how many Newell touched and inspired in his 14 pro fights.
As a kid, Newell idolized Jim Abbott, the one-handed pitcher who threw a no-hitter in 1993 while playing for the Yankees. Now kids have Newell’s poster on their walls.
Newell decided to call it a career after beating Tom Marcellino this past Saturday at WSOF 24. The 29-year-old said he had already put his body through enough punishment and wanted to “have a good body when I’m older.”
Training for an MMA fight takes a toll on your body. Imagine having to do it with only one hand.
Newell left his mark on MMA, there’s nothing left for him to prove. He’s an inspiration to those effected with a similar disability, and a motivation for perfectly normal people who refuse to challenge themselves.
“I don’t want to give you guys a second rate Nick Newell. I want the best Nick Newell there is and his days are over. It’s time to move on and do something new and share my knowledge with other people,” Newell stated.
Your best was more than enough, Nick.