Nick Newell, the one-handed fighter who overcame tremendous odds to win an MMA championship belt, has now lost that belt without setting foot in a cage. Xtreme Fighting Championships officials announced Friday they were stripping Newell of the belt after Newell refused to face Scott Holtzman in June at XFC 24.
XFC president John Prisco said Newell (9-0) has declined to defend his title against any opponent who was not a former UFC fighter (h/t OfficialXFC.com). Prisco also indicated that Newell has been released from the promotion and that Newell was intimidated by Holtzman (4-0), who would be one of Newell's toughest opponents to date.
Now, Newell is telling his side of the story. On his personal Facebook page, Newell wrote that the XFC "promoted a fight that didn't exist yet," intimating that the entire dustup was based on the promotion's effort to sign him to a long-term contract:
The headlines are misleading and imply that I was stripped of my title because I refused to fight when in fact I just chose not to renew my contract with the XFC. I am not scared to fight anybody...[I] just have my eyes on bigger pastures.
In his Facebook post, Newell did not deny the charge that he was holding out for a UFC veteran, nor did he show any interest in returning to the XFC. Newell, who was born with a left arm that ends just past his elbow, has for a long time openly coveted a chance to compete in the UFC Octagon.
Newell, 27, captured the XFC belt by defeating former Bellator fighter Eric Reynolds on Dec. 7. He never defended it.
At the moment, the XFC is apparently in the process of finding a replacement fighter to face Holtzman for the now-vacant lightweight belt. Prisco said Friday (via Yahoo! Sports) that "contracts are going out today and we'll be making the announcement over the weekend" for the replacement.
Newell, who wrestled in high school and college, earned six of his nine wins by submission. Only one of his fights has gone the distance. He is now on the roster of the well-regarded American Top Team camp.
Holtzman would certainly present a stiff test. Like Newell, he is 4-0 under the XFC banner.