Nick Newell says he wasn’t offered spot in WSOF’s lightweight tournament, still trying to get back to title fight

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

The World Series of Fighting is running an eight-man, one-night-only tournament in the lightweight division in November, but there’s a name missing from the field who’s not quite sure why.

In an interview with, one-time title challenger Nick Newell said he was never asked to be part of the field, and didn’t find out until the eight competitors were announced that he wouldn’t be involved in the No. 1 contender tournament.

“They never asked me; I didn’t find out until – I found out from the Internet when people were tagging me and stuff, saying, ‘How come you’re not in the tournament?'” Newell said. “I guess they really wanted me for the Connecticut show and they wanted to do this tournament in November. I honestly thought, they announced seven people; I thought they were waiting for me to see how I would come out of this fight. But they gave it to [Luis] Palomino, so who knows? Maybe I come out of this fight unscathed and I can get a reserve bout.”

Newell lost to Justin Gaethje in violent fashion last summer, but bounced back in April with a win over Joe Condon. He fights Tom Marcellino this weekend at WSOF 24, and is hoping that he’ll get himself another shot without needing to go through the tournament.

“I just want a title shot; your goal when you fight is to be a champion and that’s the goal,” Newell said. “Fighting three times in one night, obviously that’s a lot to ask, but I’ve wrestled for a long time and it’s not a big deal. I don’t like to toot my own horn, but I feel like I’m a decent draw already, so I don’t need to be in the tournament for people to garner interest in watching me fight.

“I’m going to do whatever I have to so I can get back to that title shot. He beat me. I lost. I accept it. In the beginning I kind of was saying this and that, but at the end of the day he got the win and I got a loss. My whole life, I’ve never let losses define me. I lost my first 17 wrestling matches, and I never quit. I’m not a quitter, and I’ve made phenomenal progress through my career. I have to make a statement so people want to watch this fight and I can get another crack at the title.”

Penick’s Analysis: Despite his handicap, Newell’s been a very exciting fighter who has showcased how talented he is during his WSOF run. However, that loss to Gaethje was pretty brutal, and even without any outside factors, getting a rematch was always going to take a more significant run. Only two wins in a row isn’t going to do it if he wins on Saturday. That said, perhaps they were premature in announcing the field, because if he won and was ready to fight on that card, it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t belong in that tournament. He’s at least deserving of the chance to earn that title shot compared to who is taking part, and hopefully he is given a meaningful fight after this event.

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