(Photo via luckyfinproject.org)
While attending the MMA World Expo last weekend, CagePotato contributor Oliver Chan ran into undefeated lightweight fighter and inspirational figure Nick Newell, who most recently won XFC’s 155-pound title with a first-round submission win over Eric Reynolds in December. “Notorious Nick” was cool enough to give Oliver a few minutes of his time, and discussed his work with Tap Cancer Out, why he deserves a shot in the UFC, and the “rich people’s sports” that are taking over the Olympics. Enjoy, and follow Nick on Twitter @NotoriousNewell.
CAGEPOTATO: I’m here with CagePotato favorite Nick Newell, Nick how are you doing?
NICK NEWELL: Good, good, I’m glad to be on the website again. I’m a huge CagePotato fan, and you guys have always had my back, so I really love the site, and I love that I’m getting more press from you guys.
Well, we’re big fans of you. Let’s talk about Tap Cancer Out, and this organization that you’ve aligned yourself with.
Jon Thomas who runs Tap Cancer Out is a longtime training partner of mine and a good friend. He’s a great guy and he’s got a great cause going. Cancer affects a lot of people, and I’m sure everybody knows someone who’s had cancer. A former training partner of mine had cancer, and I have family members who have had it, and it’s terrible. Any way you can contribute and help people out that have it is great.
During your MMA career there have been a lot of people who just didn’t want to fight you because of your physical attributes. Talk to us about some of the challenges you’ve faced getting to where you are now, as a 9-0 fighter.
It was a crazy journey, it took a long time — a lot longer than I would have liked — but the whole time while I wasn’t fighting, I was training and getting better and better. At first I got fights, and then I started beating people and then no one wanted to fight me. And they said, “Oh, it’s because you have one hand,” or whatever, but they were just trying to duck me, I think. And now that I’m fighting for the XFC, I get to fight really top-level guys, and everybody’s calling me out, so it’s different.
So what’s next, are you going to stay with XFC, or will you start looking at bigger promotions and try to get your name out a little more?
XFC has a lot of great things going on, and I’m glad to be a part of them. UFC and Bellator have great things going on too; they’re great organizations. I just want to fight the best guys in the world, so whoever’s going to give me the opportunity to do that and challenge myself, and give me a chance to cement my spot as one of the best, that’s where I want to be. I’m ready for all comers right now.
There was a report last month about some of your feelings about the UFC. I was wondering if you wanted to clear anything up or elaborate.
Yeah, the UFC is the biggest league in the world. If you play football, you want to play in the NFL. If you play baseball, you want to play in the MLB. The UFC is that for MMA, so of course I want to fight there. And I think I’ve done a lot more than a lot of people have that get in. I think I’ve earned my chance. But life’s not fair. He [Dana White] wants to say just because of the way I was born that he’s worried that I’m gonna get hurt, and I think that’s kind of ridiculous, because it’s a sport where people get hurt all the time. I’ve proven that I’m more than capable of competing at a very high level. I’m not invincible, anything can happen, but I can beat a lot of the guys there now, and I’m only getting better every day. If they put me in there, I would immediately establish myself as one of the better guys in the division, without a doubt.
Shifting gears a little, the Olympic wrestling controversy has dominated headlines lately. Can I get your opinion on that?
Yeah, man, I think it’s ridiculous! Wrestling is the first sport. Wrestling and track & field are the Olympics, you know? And I think it’s kind of ridiculous that they replace it with, like, golf. There are plenty of opportunities to make money in golf. The ultimate goal in golf is not to win an Olympic gold medal. But when you start wrestling, every kid’s dream is to be an Olympic gold medalist. That’s the ultimate goal, and to take that away from people who have been working so hard…
I think the Olympics are turning into a rich man’s games. The whole committee, they’re wealthy people, and they’re adding in things that definitely require hard work, but are more skills than sports. The Olympics should be about actual sports where you push your body to the physical limit, and to have these guys who ride yachts all day, and they sit and eat their caviar, and make their horses dance, and do synchronized swimming — I mean, all those things are hard, but they’re all rich people’s sports. And you have these rich guys on the committee that are getting funded by other rich people who want to see rich people’s sports, and it’s not really fair to the everyday people, you know? Wrestling is the first sport out there. The Olympics aren’t the Olympics without wrestling.
I’ve gotten to meet a lot of Olympians and train with them, and I can tell you that it’s their whole life. I dedicate myself to MMA, they dedicate themselves to wrestling. And wrestling truly is the hardest sport out there. Every year, you watch someone win a gold medal, and see their emotion — it’s especially great when they’re from the USA, but it’s cool with any country — and I can feel for all the hard work those guys put in, man. It’s really a magical thing, and to see that taken away, it’s really going to hurt the sport a lot.
(Nick and O Chan, just chillin’. If you’d like to donate to the Tap Out Cancer cause, please visit Oliver’s fundraising page!)