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Nick Newell Has UFC Dreams Dashed with Upset Loss on Contender Series

Steven Rondina@srondinaFeatured ColumnistJuly 25, 2018

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 24:  (R-L) Nick Newell punches Alex Munoz in their lightweight fight during Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series at the TUF Gym on July 24, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/DWTNCS LLC)
Chris Unger/DWTNCS LLC/Getty Images

Nick Newell's UFC dream may have died, as the fighter born with a congenital amputation fell on this week's installment of Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series. Facing Alex Munoz in the main event of the card, Newell's long-awaited appearance on the show was spoiled by a unanimous-decision loss.

The fight was a familiar sight for MMA fans, as Munoz found early success with his wrestling game and never looked back. Though Newell had his moments both standing and on the ground, the majority of the contest saw him either working off his back or pressed to the cage. Though Munoz didn't necessarily turn heads with his performance, he did more than enough to earn the victory and advanced to 5-0 in his professional career.

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 24:  Alex Munoz celebrates after his decision victory over Nick Newell in their lightweight fight during Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series at the TUF Gym on July 24, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/DWTNCS LL
Chris Unger/DWTNCS LLC/Getty Images

The loss is a tough one for Newell (whose record now stands at 14-2) and his fans.

With most of his left arm missing below the elbow, he established himself as one of the toasts of the American regional MMA scene, amassing a 13-1 record from 2009 to 2015, including a 4-1 run in WSOF. Though he briefly retired in 2015, he returned earlier this year with a win over Sonny Luque at LFA 35 and called for a chance to compete in the Octagon.

The UFC took notice of that but, instead of putting him on an actual event, booked him to earn his way into the promotion on the Contender Series. Though many wondered aloud why Newell, who owned a stronger record than some UFC veterans, was being forced to clear yet another hurdle, the expectation from most fans and pundits was that he would be able to pick up a relatively easy win over an unknown competitor en route to his proper Octagon debut. Obviously, things didn't pan out that way.

Objectively speaking, there is no shame in losing to Munoz. Despite his light record and complete lack of name value, the former Oklahoma State University wrestler works as the wrestling coach at Team Alpha Male, one of the top gyms in all of MMA. That background makes him a tricky foe for anyone and made him a stylistic nightmare for the submission-focused Newell.

That said, Newell's sights have long been set on the UFC and, given Dana White's well-established reluctance to add him to the roster, this loss might put that out of reach. It is currently unknown what, if anything, lies ahead for him.

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