Nick Newell accepting of UFC audition on ‘Contender Series’

Updated May 7, 2018 - 6:12 pm

Nick Newell has been breaking barriers his whole life.

He’s not about to let one more hurdle on his path to his ultimate goal of competing in the UFC discourage him on his journey.

Newell, who was born with a congenital amputation of his left arm, has amassed a 14-1 record as a professional while consistently making his case to get a shot at the big time.

UFC president Dana White has sung his praises, but has thus far relented on offering the 32-year-old fighter a contract.

Newell at least will get a chance to audition for a contract as White confirmed last month the fighter has agreed to compete on Season 2 of “Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.”

“It’s whatever,” Newell said on “The MMA Hour” of his appearance on a show that sees White sign the best performers at the end of each episode. “If I have to fight to get in there, I look at what it did for someone like Sean O’Malley, to build his star power, I think I can kind of make that happen, too.”

Newell believes he can also bring attention to the show, which streams on the UFC’s online platform, Fight Pass.

“I bring a lot of viewers,” he said. “People pay attention to me when I fight so I can bring people into this new show. I just want to get into the UFC and if they want to use me for this, to build this show, then I will do it. It’s not my company. It’s their vision so they can do whatever they want.”

Newell’s only career loss came against current UFC lightweight contender Justin Gaethje in a World Series of Fighting lightweight title bout.

He believes his resume speaks for itself.

“Do I think I belong in the UFC now if they gave me the option to do either or?” he asked. “Which one would I take? Obviously I would just go straight in. But if I have to do this that’s fine, it doesn’t matter to me. The opponent doesn’t matter to me, nothing matters to me in regards of that. The only thing that matters is that I have a path to get to where I want to go.”

The first episode will stream live from “The Ultimate Fighter” gym in Las Vegas on June 12.

Dos Santos set for return

Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos will return to the cage against Blagoy Ivanov in the main event of UFC Fight Night 133 on July 14 in Boise, Idaho.

Dos Santos last competed in May 2017 when he dropped a title bout against Stipe Miocic. He has been battling USADA over a potential suspension and was cleared last month.

Ivanov, who has been training in Las Vegas, draws a big headlining spot for his UFC debut. The card will also feature the return of Chad Mendes, who will come off a two-year USADA suspension to face Myles Jury in a featherweight bout.

A lightweight bout between James Vick and Paul Felder also has been announced for the card.

UFC 224 on deck

Amanda Nunes will put the UFC women’s bantamweight title on the line against Raquel Pennington on Saturday in the main event of UFC 224 in Rio de Janeiro. The event will air on pay-per-view at 7 p.m.

It will be the first time Nunes has put the belt on the line in her native Brazil.

Middleweight contenders Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Kelvin Gastelum also square off on the card, as do veteran middleweights Vitor Belfort and Lyoto Machida.

The event marks the second UFC appearance of jiu-jitsu phenom Mackenzie Dern, who will face Amanda Cooper. Dern, a multiple-time world champion grappler who is 6-0 as a professional in MMA, earned a split-decision win over Ashley Yoder in her UFC debut in March.

More MMA: Follow all of our MMA and UFC coverage online at CoveringTheCage.com and @CoveringTheCage on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-277-8028. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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