MMA fans were ecstatic to hear the news that World Series of Fighting would be putting together a Pride FC-style tournament to decide the next contender for the lightweight title. The eight-man tournament is expected to unfold over the course of one night with the winner moving on to challenge WSOF champion Justin Gaethje at a later date.
And then the names of the participants were announced — Brian Cobb, Brian Foster, Luis Palomino, Islam Mamedov, Mike Ricci, Joad Zeferino, Jorge Patino and Rich Patishnock.
No Nick Newell.
Perhaps the WSOF’s most recognized lightweight fighter, outside of Gaethje, wasn’t included in the tournament. Even Palomino, who has already lost to Gaethje twice this year, is receiving yet another opportunity to challenge for lightweight gold.
Most fighters would have been furious to purposely be passed up for a shot at a world title considering the circumstances, but Newell isn’t like most people. He doesn’t allow himself to linger on things beyond his control.
He simply accepts the situation as is and moves on. When speaking with Today’s Knockout on Tuesday, Newell opined that the tournament was a way for WSOF to build new stars. As a current star, he didn’t feel like he belonged:
“I think they’re trying to build a new name. They’re trying to build another draw, and they wanted me on the Connecticut show because I’m a big draw in Connecticut. I don’t necessarily need to be in a tournament for people to pay attention. Basically, it was just a timing thing because they wanted me on the Connecticut show.”
Newell, a Milford native, returns to Connecticut on Saturday to take on Tommy Marcellino, a 7-3 fighter out of Renzo Gracie Academy Latham. Marcellino represents another tough opponent who is relatively unknown to the general public for Newell.
After spending extended time on the sidelines after losing to Gaethje, Newell returned in April and dominated Joe Condon for a unanimous decision. He hopes to keep the revenge train moving full steam ahead when he steps into the cage with Marcellino:
“I think I’m going to get the finish, whether it’s standing up or on the ground. He’s pretty resilient so maybe he’ll make it to the second round. But I feel like I’m going to hurt him standing up, and on the ground, he’s not going to be able to shake me off him.”
As a professional fighter, much is made about Newell’s left arm.
He was born with congenital amputation of the arm, which extends a little below his elbow. For years, writers have piggybacked off Newell’s inspiration to deliver hordes of encouraging stories.
With so many stories of triumph, there is often a tendency to leave out the human qualities that make each person so unique.
Newell isn’t defined as an amputee, and he doesn’t want people to focus on that aspect when discussing his career. He is simply an ordinary man living out a dream by doing what he loves to do.
“I hope they see just a regular guy — a guy doing what he loves, doing what he enjoys and respectful to everyone along the way. You know? Just an average guy chasing a dream,” said Newell.
WSOF 24 is slated for Saturday night at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut. Other fights on the card include Vinny Magalhaes vs. Matt Hamill, Magomed Bibulatov vs. Donavon Frelow and a main event welterweight fight between Jon Fitch and Yushin Okami.
The main card of the event will air live on NBCSN at 8:30 p.m. ET, while the preliminary portion of the card is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. ET.