At long last Nick Newell is fighting in the Bellator cage, and in front of a hometown crowd no less.
Newell (15-2) makes his Bellator debut on Saturday, August 24 after years of fighting in other promotions. The Milford, Connecticut resident will face off with Corey Browning (4-1) on the undercard of Bellator 225. The card marks Bellator’s first appearance in Connecticut off of tribal lands.
Newell expects to have plenty of support in the stands for his bout with Browning, thanks in large part to ticket selling Newell and his mother law did before the fight. Despite the hometown hero status, Newell is on the undercard against Browning. That doesn’t bother him though.
“I understand my placement on the card, to be honest with you,” Newell told MMASucka.com. “They have their fighters that are under longer term contract and they want to push them, and they want people that are more guaranteed. This time I have to win this fight to show my value so I can get the long-term value and get the contract and fight for Bellator full time and be the guy on the main card. Saturday night is when I have to show that.”
In Browning, Newell finds an opponent who has upset more than one narrative. In his first fight with Bellator, Browning defeated Kevin Ferguson Jr., also known as “Baby Slice,” with strikes. Against British reality TV star Aaron Chalmers, Browning locked up a third-round submission. Newell knows the possibility for an upset is there, but he is confident in his ability to get the win.
“I said yes (to Corey) right away,” Newell said. “I knew who he was, I was at the Baby Slice fight. He’s good man, but listen, when you’re at this level everyone is good. He has two fights in Bellator, this is my first, but I’ve been fighting top-shelf opponents, really good opponents, my whole career. I just get to do it on a different stage.”
That different stage includes a lot of things, but it’s all familiar to the 17-fight veteran. Newell is doing more media than he has in the past, but it’s low stress for him especially considering he’s so close to home.
“I’m just happy to be fighting at home, everything is a little more convenient,” Newell said. “Things are closer if I forget something someone can drop it off. It feels so…it’s cool because now that I’m so close everyone I know can come and watch my fight. Watching in person is a lot better than watching it on tv. It’s good to get in there and get that energy and give back to the people that have been watching me since day one.”
And at the end of the day, when his fight with Browning is over, Nick Newell is confident in his ability to get the victory.
“I’ve sparred with top-level kickboxers, grappled with top-level grapplers,” Newell said. “I’m there with everyone. There’s not anywhere I feel uncomfortable. That’s cliché, but I’ve been training for 19 years. I should feel comfortable everywhere, and I am. I have a great team and a great camp, so I’m ready to do my thing.”