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Fightweets: The evolution of Nick Newell

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Courtesy Nick Newell

Nick Newell has a feeling people are starting to come around.

More and more, the undefeated lightweight from Connecticut, who makes his World Series of Fighting debut on Saturday night against Keon Caldwell, is hearing about his merits as a fighter. The inquiries about his condition as a congenital amputee are becoming fewer and fewer.

"I am starting to get recognized more for my fighting ability than how different I am," said Newell (9-0). "It's a nice change of pace, you know, my last couple fights have been against very tough competition and I won every single one of them and did so pretty impressively. So people are starting to recognize that and it's nice."

Newell's fight with Caldwell in Ontario, Calif. will air on the NBC Sports Network live main-card broadcast. Newell says the amount of publicity he handled early in his career helped him prepare for the next level of spotlight.

"I've always done a lot of media," Newell said. "My story has always been an interesting one, even when I was 3-0 I was getting a fair amount of media coverage. Back when I was fighting with XFC I had to do pretty much all the media because I was the only person anyone wanted to interview. The media is, the amount of media I've been doing is very similar, but the platforms are higher."

One person who has noticed Newell's attention level is Caldwell. Or more specifically, Caldwell's team, who have been vocal with their displeasure over the fact Newell has been promised a post in the upcoming WSOF lightweight title tournament with a victory Saturday. That promise wasn't made to Caldwell, whom fans may remember as a part of The Ultimate Fighter 13.

"They announced a tournament and that I'd be in it if I won," Newell said. "And they were all ‘How come he's not in the tournament?' Just ‘the tournament, the tournament, the tournament.' Right now, I don't care about the tournament. I care about fighting him. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. It's an honor to be a part of it, but it's not a concern right now. You know? I haven't even earned the right to be in it. You have to win a fight before you can even talk about who belongs and who's in it. The only thing I care about is my fight Saturday night. If he wants more media coverage, put yourself out there. The guy never tweets or does anything."

Speaking of tweeting, on to the return of Fightweets after a brief hiatus.

Boston, you're my home

@RuckerYeah: You're from Boston, right? What's the deal with all the trouble UFC is having?

Yup, Boston's my hometown, warts and all. I love it and in general will defend and protect it the way you would your crazy little brother who goes off picking fights with people twice his size. But there's no excusing Massachusetts politicians. Make no mistake, they've done some good (first in the nation in full marriage equality; universal health care), but there's still the ugly side. Like the Big Dig construction project, which was initially targeted to cost $2.8B and ended up costing $22B (before someone jumps in with a comment about "liberal Massachusetts," a string of Republican governors reigned during the bulk of the project. Wasting money is a bipartisan effort in Boston). Of course, the Commonwealth still managed to hit me up once for $80 in back taxes from eight years previous while the billions were vanishing, but I digress.

Which brings us to the Aug. 17th UFC card at Boston's TD Garden. The way I look at it is, the culinary union is running out of targets. The only state in which MMA is still illegal is New York. They've all but lost the battle. So the only thing left is to go to those few places where they still have some juice and make a nuisance of themselves. They found a puppet in Boston city councilor Stephen Murphy, who wants to ban minors from UFC events. Of course, the Ravens-Patriots AFC title game this year featured one guy who has previously been accused of murder on one team, and another who would go on to be accused of multiple murders on the other, but the good Councilor is A-OK with minors watching the NFL. But yet again, I digress.

This is all playing out like a proper Boston farce: The politicians give the unions and their flunkies a hearing to make it look like they're sensitive to their constituents' needs, but they're also not going to pull the plug on one of the few big-money events that will hit the Garden this summer. That much was apparent with the little dog-and-pony show the commission put on before Chael Sonnen was licensed on Thursday. It's the sort of thing that makes outsiders shake their heads, but in Boston, it's just accepted as the way things are done. Eh, at least the Sox are winning again.

Rampage vs. Tito

tjohn224: How would you define success for Bellator's first PPV?

Good question. I'm not sure I'm ready to attach a specific buy rate number to success or failure to the Quinton Jackson-Tito Ortiz fight just yet (That's my man Meltzer's thing, anyway). The only thing I'm pretty convinced of is that I don't think this is going to be anywhere near the disaster people are making it out to be (Buy rate-wise, that is. The fight itself has train-wreck potential). The people behind this, Viacom, understand the ins and outs of the television business. This isn't Affliction throwing money at what they think hardcores want. This is a major TV player who will have a couple months to build this event up on television.

I think there are enough lapsed/casual fans out there who might be willing to give it a look, the people who still kind of like Rampage despite all his antics and/or wouldn't mind seeing Tito get KOd one last time. And if Bellator manages to settle with Eddie Alvarez and put together the rematch with Michael Chandler, half the hardcores dogging the show will end up buying it just to watch that one. Put it all together and I think Bellator will end up doing a non-embarrassing PPV number. Admittedly, that's about as low as you can set the bar without just dropping it on the ground, but hey.

Speaking of Chandler ...

@carlucci160mma: champ vs champ, who u got bendo or chandler? Purely hypothetical i know, but I believe chandler takes it

Easy there, tiger. I like Chandler as much as anyone. I think he's Bellator's best pound-for-pound fighter and I think he's a legit Top 10 guy. But Benson Henderson has done everything there is to do at 155 except take a short hop on a time machine and go back and fight a prime B.J. Penn (OK, or, beat Anthony Pettis. But he has a chance to do something about that one soon). Simply on their resumes and the fact Henderson is showing no signs of slowing down, you have to give it to Bendo.

Bantamweight champ(s)

@alisotrev: how would you handle @TheDomin8r knee issues? Do you give him immediate title shot or strip and a contender bout?

This is back in the news thanks to our ace new Brazilian reporter, Guilherme Cruz, who reported this week that Renan Barao was told Dominick Cruz will be back in February.

UFC doesn't do non-title fights, other than fighters missing weight in announced title fights. So I think it comes down to what Dominick Cruz wants. If he wants a tune-up fight, he should relinquish the title, let Barao assume the championship, and then fight him later if his return bout goes well. But if Cruz feels ready to come right out of the gate and defend his title, well, to quote John McCarthy, "let's get it on."

(person whose twitter handle I somehow lost and can't find on my timeline): if cruz loses to barao does he get automatic rematch?

I think so. First off, Cruz has never lost at 135 pounds and was establishing himself as a dominant champion when he got hurt. Second, Barao himself is in the process of laying waste to the rest of the competition at 135. So in this situation, yeah, barring extenuating circumstances I think you go to the rematch.

@torontoufcfan: What's the deal with the lack of promo for Barao. He is a champ, yet is not being featured accordingly at UFC 165

Wow, more questions about Barao this week than I've had in Fightweets history. Must be Cruz's doing. As for promoting Barao, I mean, give it some time, you know? There's like 800,000 UFC events coming up and there just so happens to some guy named Jones fighting on that card.

@Elcujorino: If Anderson Silva beats Chris Weidman do you see a scenario in which Vitor gets a rematch?

After all those empty seats in Rio for UFC 163? Sure. If they want a blockbuster stadium-filler to jump-start Brazil again, Silva vs. Belfort is it. But this depends on a. Silva winning the rematch, b. Doing so in such a manner that doesn't call for an immediate trilogy fight, c. Belfort not going completely off the deep end between now and then.

Got a question for the next Fightweets? Go to my Twitter page and leave me a tweet.