After years of sacrifice and proving doubters wrong at every stop he made, Nick Newell was given the chance to accomplish his dream of fighting in the UFC if he could win impressively in front of Dana White on the Contender Series. But his opponent had other plans, Alex Munoz implemented his game plan and defeated Newell. It was an opportunity Newell admits he let slip through his fingers.
“It was my moment and I dropped the ball… things like that happen. He (Dana White) told me that I had a great kick, he was very impressed with my kicks, but I didn’t get signed. My goal when I started fighting was to get a win in the UFC, to be a UFC fighter and a winner in the UFC. That as not my night, it’s still meant to be but that wasn’t the right time. After that, I moved on from it, I’ll get to where I want to be, I know it. I’ve taken the long road, I’ve taken the hard road my whole life, it was just another road block. But, just because they hit a little harder doesn’t mean it’s not possible, I still plan on making, I’m going to make it happen.”
The fight itself was competitive, Munoz utilized his wrestling to control Newell, but Newell had his moments as well. He says it’s just another learning experience.
“Obviously it wasn’t my night, but I wouldn’t say it was not competitive. I had my moments, I hit the jumping knee, I hit the front kick to the face, I landed a lot of really good kicks, I almost had a choke. It was a really good fight, I’m not saying I won or anything like that, he had takedowns and control and he had some good moments. I’ve accepted it and learned from it and really fell back in love with my wrestling.”
Nick Newell has always been a good wrestler, he wrestled in college at Western New England College but as he mentioned, he fell in love with it again. He brought in high level wrestlers and coaches to help him train including Sacred Heart University wrestling coach John Clark. But wrestling wasn’t the only thing Newell fell in love with after his Contender Series bout, he became a father for the first time afterwards. Because he was new to fatherhood and he wanted to enjoy time with his family as well as run his gym, Fighting Arts Academy, Newell took time off from fighting. Now he is back and will compete at CES 56 on May 31 where he’ll face Antonio Castillo Jr. in the co-main event.
Between running his gym, coaching his fighters like Justin Sumter and Mike Kimbel along with his own training hasn’t left him much time to be with his family while in camp.
“I’m coaching guys at a high level, on top of running a business, on top of getting a fight and being a father. In the long term, the fighter thing isn’t what I can do forever, so I had to put that on the back burner but in the meantime, I was still getting better. The extra work I do for the fight, and the extra work I do in camp, I don’t really have much time to be with my family when I’m doing stuff like that.”
But a win with Newell will be worth it as he expects it will put him right back on the UFC’s radar.
“After this one. That’s what I’m shooting for.”
“Once I’ve performed here, I can start knocking on doors.”
But his opponent has other plans. Castillo Jr. is replacing Kalvin Hackney who was originally supposed to face Newell. Castillo Jr. has a record of 10-11. But for Newell, he doesn’t care who he faces, as long as they are tough.
“I’m good against anyone, I’m well-rounded. If I want to fight the best guys in the world, I can’t be worried about this or that, so it’s whatever, just another body.”
Pat Sullivan, the matchmaker for CES vouched for Newell’s attitude, when he presented the new opponent to him, there was no hesitation on Newell’s part to sign it, nor was there for Castillo Jr.
“Fighters fight and Nick Newell is a fighter. When his opponent dropped out, he told me pointblank there’s no way he’s not fighting at CES 56. That’s one thing I’ve always respected about Nick; his willingness to take on any challenge. His opponent, Antonio Castillo Jr., is a warrior and a true professional too. Both fighters accepted the bout immediately, and both guys are ready to put on a show.”
CES 56 airs live on UFC Fight Pass on May 31.