Everything leading up to World Series of Fighting's (WSOF) inaugural event in Canada, WSOF 7, which is set to go down Dec. 7, 2013, from PNE Agrodome in Vancouver, British Columbia, has gone relatively smooth (aside from the injury to Mike Kyle's pinky toe, which derailed his main event bout with Anthony Johnson for a second time).
"Notorious" Nick Newell has known he was going to fight on the card for awhile now, in fact the buzz surrounding the undefeated (10-0) congenital amputee has been so great that, according to him, at times it feels like, "I'm the only guy anyone wants to interview."
I was one of those people who wanted to speak with him, especially after witnessing his WSOF 4 debut in-person, when he submitted Keon Caldwell with a modified guillotine choke just two minutes into the first round.
I asked Newell after finding out about Kyle's injury whether he was upset about not being promoted to the main event instead of Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Lance Palmer.
As is the case usually with Newell, it didn't phase him.
"Nah, Palmer and Karakhanyan is a title fight. I don't care about stuff like that. I mean, co-main [event] would have been cool, but it's no biggie."
Newell's relationship with WSOF and company president Ray Sefo is strong, something the 27-year-old credits with his decision to sign there.
"I love World Series of Fighting -- one thing I noticed right of the bat is how well they treat their fighters and the family aspect of the company. I really feel like I am apart of the family when I go to the shows, they take care of everything, so all I need to worry about is fighting. Financially they take good care of you, they give out bonuses. They are such a well organized promotion that it was from the beginning a strong relationship. I hope to continue working and fighting for them, they are a great up and coming organization. I am really getting my name out there, and I hope to be apart of their growth as they go worldwide."
As all inquiring minds want to know, I asked about the future, and whether the former Xtreme Fighting Championship (XFC) kingpin could see himself becoming one of the best Lightweight fighters in the world within WSOF's realm.
"Absolutely, it's not even a question. Look at all the talent we have in the lightweight division. Of course I want to be the champion, that's why I am here, to test myself. If it doesn't involve fighting it isn't apart of my life right now. I am always in the gym, always evolving. If I get free time, I sleep and relax. Sometimes my friends want to hang out late, I don't, I go home and go to sleep. I'm just very focused on everything I have been working on for years is really coming full circle. I realize the opportunity I have and I am trying to make the most of it."
When can mixed martial arts (MMA) fans expect a WSOF title shot?
"Whenever they are ready, if they feel it's time for me to get a title shot I'll take a title shot. I am just enjoying the journey and fighting whoever they want me to fight. I'd love a title shot but I am just taking it one fight at a time, I don't want to get to far ahead of myself."
Make the most of his short MMA career he has, the road has led him here, a fight Dec. 7 with Fadai, a virtual unknown who wants nothing more than to become "Notorious" at Newell's expense. So has this camp been any different this time around for Newell?
"Training is going well, I really fell into a good groove with my training and learning, I have a routine that really works well for me. I am really comfortable and learning fast and working hard, I am more focused than I've ever been, which is kind of scary. You know? I'm in a good place, I am ready to put on a show Dec 7"
And his thoughts on Sabai?
"I mean, I have watched videos on him, when they gave me the name I hadn't really heard of him, but he has a good record and has beat some tough guys. The fact that no one has heard of him I think makes him all the more dangerous. He is new to the scene and has a great opportunity to make a name for himself, and show people how good of a fighter he is. He is hungry and skilled, that is something I am taking into account."
In a recent interview with Fighthype.com Fadai had some coarse words for his opponent.
"I really don't give a shit man, I really don't. Every one of his other opponents that has lost to him either underestimated him or had too much self-confidence and lost. I don't care if he has a disability or uses it to his advantage or not, I'm going over there to beat the shit out of him."
After seeing the article, I sent a link over to Newell and asked for his thoughts, not expecting much knowing how even keeled he is. Here is his response:
"He didn't say anything out of the ordinary or disrespectful. I am ready to go to war & I expect a tough fight from him so I can't wait."
Since Sabai took it upon himself to mention Newell's "disability" (at 10-0 can we call it that?) I figured it was a perfect transition to ask him about the attention that is constantly put on missing his left hand and forearm just below the elbow joint.
"I don't give a shit man. I never have been like 'check me out, I have one arm and I'm out here fighting, is that unique?' All I have ever done is put on exciting fights and win. But I know stuff like that is marketable and grabs the eye of the casual reader. I have come to terms with it. I am not embarrassed of who I am, I have one arm. If you see a black guy fighting, you don't put 'black fighter' to me it's the same thing. If it helps market me and helps me stand out and make a living, that's cool. Whatever gets you to watch."
Come next weekend, everyone who tunes into NBC Sports Network for WSOF 7 will be treated with watching Newell fight for the first time since August. Chances are great that -- just like the first nine of his 10 total fights -- the bout won't go the allotted 15 minutes and Newell's right hand will be raised in victory.
For more on WSOF 7 be sure to check out our complete event archive right here.