Earlier today, fans and media in the MMA sphere were treated to some disconcerting news from the XFC promotion. In an unusual move, XFC president, John Prisco stripped his unbeaten lightweight champion, Nick Newell of his title, and went on to basically throw him under the bus with a statement that accused Newell of being afraid to face the opponent the organization had chosen for him on their upcoming card. You can read more about that from our coverage of the incident here.
I spoke with Nick a few moments ago, so that our readers can have both sides of this unfortunate story. Here's what he had to say:
You know, it's kind of ridiculous. First point being that I'm not currently under contract with XFC, so they were just promoting a fight that didn't even exist yet. They never confirmed the fight with me. I never said, 'Hey, I'm gonna take this fight with Scott Holtzman' and then said, 'Screw you guys, I'm scared.'
I'm not scared, I'm just ready to move on to bigger things. I didn't like the vision that they had for my career, and I'm choosing to see what else is out there for me.
They have their open fighter tryouts, and they pride themselves on making their own fighters, like bringing guys from nothing to something, and building fighters and not taking them from somewhere else. It's a league filled with up and comers.
I don't think that's a bad business. I think it's a good thing, because it helped build me, and I'm very appreciative of everything they've done for me. The fact that they've tried to tarnish my name like this upsets me more than it angers me. I thought we had a good relationship. I've always liked the XFC and I'm still a fan of them. I'm not taking any of this to heart.
At the end of the day, what they had for me was not what I envisioned. Since day number one, it's been to get to the UFC. They say, 'Who have you beaten?' I beat Eric Reynolds who is a legit veteran, and I get a lot of attention, and now they want me to go back to fighting up and comers.
I do want to fight guys that were in the UFC. I have said that. I want to fight guys that have been there, so I can use that as a barometer for where I'm at in the sport, because I want to get into the UFC. That's been my goal. I'm ready now. I feel like I would establish myself as a contender pretty quickly.
To say that I'm scared of someone is kind of ridiculous. It's just a way for them to bully me into re-signing with them, but what's after Scott Holtzman? A guy with four or five fights? Another fight with Eric Reynolds? I don't want to sound like I've gone Hollywood, but I'm ready for a bigger name and a bigger challenge. I think Eric Reynolds was a much tougher challenge than Scott Holtzman. I'm not scared of him. The headlines are misleading.
I asked Newell if there was any way that the XFC could rectify this situation with him, but he says he wants to move on to an organization that will allow him to face more challenging opponents.
No, there's not. When it comes down to it, I want to fight a guy next that I can build my name and reputation off of. I'm not young, I'm 27 years old. I realize that I still have my best times ahead of me, and I want to be in the biggest organization in the world when they are.
I know that they (UFC) don't want me right now, but their argument is, 'Who have you beaten from the UFC?' Well, I haven't beaten anyone, because I haven't had the opportunity to fight someone yet. I want to fight someone that was in the UFC.
Nick and his management are already fielding offers from other organizations, and says that they should be making an announcement in the next week. As a fan of this inspirational athlete, I hope it's soon, as I would like to see his dream of being in the UFC realized. It's hard not to root for someone that makes the most of a situation that others might view as insurmountable.
You can follow Nick via his Twitter account, @NotoriousNewell