I will admit I was really nervous to do this interview with MMA Fighter, Nick Newell. I don’t know a lot of mixed martial arts fighters, but I do know it is one of the most brutal sports. When I watched Nick Newell’s matches on YouTube, it confirmed my fear. I was about to interview a fierce competitor that dominated his opponents in the ring. You can imagine my surprise when I found myself talking with a mild-mannered gentleman who presented himself as “an every day kind of guy.” However, what doesn’t make Nick, “the every day kind of guy,” is his extremely high expectations of himself and a whole lot of grit. Here is his sports story.
Where is your hometown? I grew up in Milford, Connecticut. I went to college at Western New England University in Springfield near where I train.
What sport or sports do you play? I train in mixed martial arts at the Fighting Arts Academy in Springfield and I will be opening a gym soon in Connecticut.
What is your sports story? When I was growing up around the age of five, I decided I wanted to play soccer. So, my mom signed me up. I wanted to play soccer because you don’t need two hands to play soccer. Then in third grade, all of my friends were playing baseball. So, I decided I wanted to play baseball. My first year was a little rough. But then, the next two years I made the all-star team.
When I got to high school I decided I didn’t want to do soccer or baseball anymore and I decided to wrestle. I lost my first 17 matches. I was wresting in the 103 pound class, but I was only about 97 pounds. By my senior year, I was All-State. I broke the school record for career wins because I made up for my first year over the next three years. And my senior year, I also set the state record with 53 wins.
WNEU Photo Credit: WNE Wrestling
I went on to college where I wrestled for Western New England University. I was a two-year captain, but I was never an All-American or anything very prestigious. Although, I would have liked to reach that level. So I moved onto mixed martial arts (MMA), and the rest is history.
Did your wrestling background help you with mixed martial arts? Yes, tremendously. Not only did it help me skill wise, but wrestling also helps you determine where you want the fight, which is a huge advantage in MMA fighting. But, really it is the mental toughness and mindset you get from wrestling that is second to none.
What accomplishments in sports are you most proud of? The thing that I am most proud of is that I have always strived to be the best version of myself. I never compared myself to anyone else or envied anyone else for what they accomplished. It’s just me competing against myself. I am always trying to be the best version of myself and I think that is what helped me be successful.
Nick posing with his XFC champion belt. Photo Credit: 5thRound.com
Going 4-1 in the World Series of Fighting is certainly an accomplishment, as well as, winning the XFC title. But, I am simply proud of the person that I am.
What is your workout schedule? I train 11 times a week. I workout twice a day Monday through Friday. I train once on Saturday and I take Sunday off. My training consists of kickboxing, wrestling, grappling, and strength training. There are two different types of workouts. There are cardio workouts where I do rounds, and there are technique workouts where I go slower to improve my techniques. I also lift. You can check me out lifting on-line at #liftingonehanded or #newellworldorder.
What songs are on your workout playlist? I like alternative music the best. I am also a hip hop fan. I have a friend, Danny Evans, who does hip hop and he has an album out that I listen to a lot. I listen to everything, but country music. I don’t like country music. I’m not saying I don’t like people who like country music. I am just saying, personally, I just can’t stand it.
What books inspire you? (Long pause…) I could read a little bit more; I definitely could. I am more of an audio-video guy. I was a communications major, so I like videos more. I did read The Hunger Games books because I liked the first movie.
Nick with his opponent in a choke hold. Photo Credit: MMAjunkie.com
What’s your mantra that keeps you going during tough workouts or bad days? I don’t like to lose. I am very hard on myself. I hold myself to pretty high standards which motivates me to work hard and to work through unpleasant situations that other people wouldn’t want to work through.
What superpowers do you possess? (Another long pause…) I am more of a Batman type guy. I take what I have and make it work. Then, I go about it the smartest way possible. No superpowers. Just always working with what I have.
How would you define ability? Ability is the efficiency at which you can get something done. It is how well you can do something.
How would you define grit? Your willingness to push through. If you really have grit, you can push through anything.
What advice do you have for other athletes? Doesn’t matter what sport you are doing… if you want to the best in it, you have to earn it. You have to earn everything. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, just be the best you.
Who would you like to thank? I want to thank Fighting Arts Academy in Springfield and my coaches- Jeremy Libiszewski and Scott LeBrie.
Instructors at Fighting Arts Academy Photo Credit: fightingartsacademy.com
For a little more on Nick check out this video: A Day in the Life of MMA Amputee Fighter Nick Newell by STACK