Nick Newell has made a significant splash on the regional MMA scene. Missing a portion of his left arm, Newell was always going to turn heads as a cagefighter. But he has proven to be much more than a gimmick or just someone trying to "prove himself" on the local scene.
Newell has emerged as a very good lightweight, even taking home the XFC title at 155 in his last fight. The idea of him competing in the UFC seemed like a solid possibility given the level of talent he'd displayed thus far in his career. That is, until UFC president Dana White shot down the idea last month (via MMA Fighting):
After the pre-fight press conference for UFC 155 in December, White threw cold water on the idea of ever giving a UFC contract to a one-handed fighter despite Newell's obvious progress in the sport. "Never, no," White said of the possibility. "It's hard to fight here with two arms. It's tough. There's guys that we bring in that are considered top guys on The Ultimate Fighter that don't ever really pan out and make it. Will the state of Nevada let him fight? Will the state of California let him fight? Would some of these bigger athletic commissions let him fight? Maybe he can get away with that in some of these other states. I don't know, fighting with one arm is just craziness to me."
Newell was on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani and addressed Dana's comments:
In Newell's mind, White has concerns about matters that aren't even in play. "I've already been licensed in Nevada, so that's not really an issue. At all," Newell said. "It kinda disappoints me that someone that's such a powerful figure in this sport feels that way or looks at me that way."
"I don't get discouraged too much about things like that. I'm not going anywhere in this sport. I'm good. A lot of those guys in the UFC, just because they're in the UFC doesn't mean they can beat me. I think I match up really well with a lot of people in there.
"[White] wants to talk about how he wants to give people equal opportunity - to women, to gay fighters and stuff like that. Well, I'd like my equal opportunity as well."