Nick Palmer is one of those people where when you talk to or meet him for the first time you genuinely know he is a good guy. He is one of those people who gives you inspiration, and naturally puts a smile on your face.
When you hear his story and understand exactly what he is fighting for you cannot help but want to cheer for him. Palmer was born without a right hand so you can imagine that fighting probably wasn’t something that people would imagine him doing. But to him he has known nothing else. It comes naturally to him because he never knew the use of both hands. In fact he says that people with two hands have an “extra” hand. He is nicknamed “The Inspiration” and for good reason. MyMMANews.com caught up with Nick just about a month out from his next scheduled bout.
MyMMANews – Nick, it’s usually good practice to start at the beginning so let’s give that a shot. How old are you and how did you get into MMA?
Nick Palmer – “I am 30 years old and I got started in MMA after watching my cousin Mike Schmidt fight a few times. My first fight was supposed to be the start of a tough-man style tournament for guys that didn’t have a MMA background. At the time eight people had signed up for this tournament, or so I was told. The tournament ended up falling through and I was asked if I still wanted to fight someone that has been training in MMA. I accepted without hesitation and I ended up being choked out in a minute and 19 seconds of the first round.”
MyMMANews – You are competing on the amateur circuit and are currently sitting at 3-5 record. You told us at MyMMANews that you didn’t really feel comfortable in the cage until your fourth fight. You experienced losses in all four of those first four fights. What made you say “I’m going to give this another shot”? Most people would have given up and said “you know what? This sport is not for me.” What gave Nick Palmer the drive to continue fighting?
Nick Palmer – “Well, this was an easy decision for me to make. My father always told me he ‘didn’t raise a quitter’ so quitting was never an option for me. I knew I was a lot better than what my record was showing and I continued to improve with every fight. One mistake here or there can be the difference between a win and a loss and I just needed to stop making those one or two mistakes.”
MyMMANews – Once you did get comfortable though you showed some incredible talent. You had two knockout victories back to back, one in less than 15 seconds and the other just at about 30 seconds both in the first round. What did that do for your confidence level?
Nick Palmer – “It definitely raised my confidence level a little, especially because at the time my confidence was pretty low. Losing four in a row isn’t the easiest thing to swallow so after getting a couple wins I knew I was ready to start showing people who I really am.”
MyMMANews – When do you think you will be going pro?
Nick Palmer – “ I guess I don’t really have a set timetable as to when I will go pro, but it’ll probably be when my teammates tell me I am ready to make that move. I don’t see it happening anytime real soon, though.”
MyMMANews – You were born without a fully functional right hand. Can you tell us a bit about some of the challenges you have endured as a result, and how you have adapted?
Nick Palmer – “The only ‘challenges’ I really face is having to modify certain training equipment to fit my needs. From having to modify the way I wrap my hands and modifying different submissions. I honestly don’t view anything as a challenge, I just have to do some things differently than others and honestly, that’s something I’ve been doing my whole life.”
MyMMANews – Walk us through exactly what the condition is called if you don’t mind.
Nick Palmer – “Sure, it’s called Symbrachydactyly. Taking the word literally, ‘sym’ means joined (like ‘syn’), ‘brachy’ means short and “dactyly” means finger. So, the word means ‘Short joined fingers.’ Symbrachydactyly (sim-brak″e-dak´tĭ-le) occurs during normal embryonic development. When a baby’s hands begin to form in utero, they are shaped like mittens or paddles. Then the fingers divide. In babies with Symbrachydactyly, the fingers (and sometimes the hand and arm) don’t fully form during this time. This may happen because the area doesn’t get enough blood flow or because of some other problem with the tissue. It’s not caused by anything the mother did or did not do while she was pregnant.”
MyMMANews – Does your state’s Athletic Commission have any issues with sanctioning fights for you due to what some might call a handicap?
Nick Palmer – “When I first got licensed to fight in Minnesota I had to present a modified glove to the athletic commission and the first one didn’t pass their expectations. I attended two separate meetings before I got the glove I currently compete in approved. After that, the commission has had absolutely no issues in allowing me to compete.”
MyMMANews – Do you ever have anybody tell you it would be unfair for them to fight you because of the disability? If so, should we point them to the two knockout videos on YouTube?
Nick Palmer – “Haha, I remember there was a kid once that told my sister-in-law that he was better than me. I remember she asked him if he knew me and he said ‘oh the guy with one hand, yeah I’m way better than him.’ Unfortunately for him, that couldn’t be further from the truth and he had to find out the hard way when he came in my gym one night. I wasn’t malicious at all, but I did show him who was really better.”
MyMMANews – Good for you, that’s awesome.
Nick Newell, a professional fighter currently signed to the WSOF, has a similar story. He too does not have the use of a second hand however he is fighting for the organization’s lightweight title in a few short weeks. Is he an inspiration for you, or someone that you look up to?
Nick Palmer – “Yes, Nick Newell is someone I really look up to and admire. Before I started competing I Googled one handed MMA fighter and his name came up. This was back when he was only 2-0. I found him on Facebook and we still communicate to this day. He gives me tips, watches my fights and gives me great advice. Any time I have reached out to him for advice, he hasn’t hesitated in getting back to me. He’s such a great guy. I haven’t met Nick Newell in person yet, but after my next fight I have plans to meet up with Nick Newell to get in some training with a soon to be World Champ.”
MyMMANews – When is you next fight and against who?
Nick Palmer – “My next fight is July 12th against a 4-5 Sam Hernandez. On paper, this fight looks like it’s going to be fireworks with both of us swinging for the fences.”