Nick Newell will try to keep his record perfect on Saturday night. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
When Nick Newell steps into the cage, people pay attention.
Though this was first likely due to the fact that Newell was born without a left hand, heads are now turning for a different reason: his undefeated record.
Perfect through 10 pro outings, Newell will next test himself against Sabah Fadai during World Series of Fighting’s inaugural visit to Canada, which takes place Saturday at PNE Agrodome in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The fight will play a supporting role on NBC Sports Network’s broadcast, which is topped by a featherweight title showdown between Georgi Karakhanyan and Lance Palmer. A congenital amputee, Newell has earned his place as a top lightweight prospect over four years as a pro, stopping nine of his 10 victims inside the distance.
Though “Notorious” has made just a single WSOF appearance, talk of a potential title shot for the 27-year-old has already begun to surface. Even so, Newell remains focused solely on the task at hands: his WSOF 7 clash with Fadai.
“I’m really just concentrated on this fight right now more than anything else,” Newell said during a Tuesday conference call. “When it comes to the title, you have to beat everybody if you think you're the best. In due time, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get there and fight whomever I have to fight. There are no easy fights in the World Series of Fighting.”
In Fadai, Newell faces a 28-year-old who has not competed since October 2012, when he submitted Cody Krahn under the Maximum Fighting Championship banner. While Fadai will surely look to make the most of this chance in the spotlight, he admits that preparing for a one-handed opponent has been a new experience.
“I’m often asked, ‘How do you prepare for a guy with one arm?’ You really don’t. You can’t bring in somebody and tie off their arm. It just doesn’t work that way,” said Fadai. “I think Nick is a tough guy. I’m not going to take anything away from him. I think he uses one arm as an advantage. Like I’ve said before, I’m going to go out there to hurt him. It’s our job to fight and that’s what I’m going to do.”
For Newell, the attention paid to his left arm is something to which he has grown accustomed -- a fact that allows him to focus on improving his record, even if spectators cannot help but concentrate on his unique physical makeup.
“I feel like I’m being looked at more for my skill now than for having one hand. People are always going to say, ‘Look at that guy. I can’t believe it,’” said Newell. “It’s a part of who I am. If I go to the movies, someone will say, ‘Look at the guy with one hand going to the movies.’ It's always going to be like that. There will be people who have negative things to say, but I grew up with it and have a pretty thick skin. I’m a fighter at the end of the day, and a pretty good one, and that's why I’m in the World Series of Fighting -- because of what I’ve accomplished and not because of the way I was born.”