Nick Newell (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Nick Newell and the Story of ‘Notorious Nick’

Believe it or not, there’s a guy with the moniker “Notorious” who is not a loud-mouthed troll or a guy wearing head-to-toe body art. Some people with that nickname are just an act. However, Nick Newell is notorious because of who he is.

Newell was born as a congenital amputee. From the time he was born, his left arm ended just below the elbow. Fortunately, there was never anything missing. Regardless of the obstacle, the Connecticut native had it within him to push through and excel.

Newell was drawn to sports, and he did well as a wrestler in high school. By 2009, the then-23-year-old made his pro debut as a mixed martial artist. He won his first fight by first-round TKO. Within five years, he was 11-0 with all but one win coming by finish. However, at World Series of Fighting’s 11th event, he picked up his first loss while challenging Justin Gaethje for the lightweight title. He now sits at 16-4 as a pro, but his last two fights ended in contestable decisions.


“I mean, I’m really happy fighting for Bellator,” Newell told Combat Press. “I think the judges at Mohegan [Sun Casino] need to step their game up and need to start showing me a little more love. But, other than that, I’m really happy. I’m just having some fun fights and just having a good time in there competing and doing my thing. I’m really happy with Bellator, and I still have a lot more to prove. Early next year, I’ll be back out there.”

Newell owns a gym – Fighting Arts Academy in Milford, Conn. – allowing him to continue training when the COVID-19 lockdowns hit hard on the East Coast in the spring of 2020.

“I actually trained during the whole shut down, because I own my own gym and have my own key,” Newell said. “But, we were expecting a baby. I really needed to train. So, one of my main training partners – he actually fights this Friday, Eddy George for CES – I trained with him for the whole time. He had a newborn, and we just kind of quarantined ourselves. We didn’t go around anyone else, and just trained with each other the whole time.”

Newell is an inspiring athlete. In his entire wrestling and MMA careers, his amputation wasn’t a burden. In fact, he struggled to get fights. No one wanted to fight a “one-handed” man who was likely to beat them. Statistically, fighting Newell meant almost certain defeat. As others ducked him in the cage, a group in Tinsel Town wanted to tell his story on the big screen.

“So, about seven or eight years ago, my manager calls me up, and says he has been contacted by the guy that produced Bloodsport about possibly making a movie about my life. So, I called these guys up, and we talked with them. We hit it off really well. They said ‘Hey, we want to fly you out to L.A. We’re going to get moving on this.’ So, I flew out to L.A., I met with some really talented writers, and I met with the producers. I told them my story.

“Then, I just kind of faded back a little bit. Some years went by, and then, all of a sudden, a movie is made about my life. I’m like ‘wow, this really happened.’ I had the pleasure of watching it recently, and it’s a really good movie. It’s a really fun movie. The fight scenes are good. Everything’s good. It’s like a martial arts classic.”

On Friday, Aug. 6, Lionsgate releases the new film Notorious Nick, which chronicles the story of Newell’s life. From childhood to an elite fighter, it’s a story that is not to be missed. Newell shared his background and then let Hollywood do the rest.

“I told them my story, and they took it, and kind of ran with it,” Newell explained. “I’m not a producer. I never made a movie. I’m not a Hollywood guy. So, I just gave it all to them, and they did a great job with it. They made a really great movie. Martial arts movies – a lot of the time – are really cheesy. This is far from cheesy. This is a really good, legitimate film for people that aren’t even martial arts fans.”

Newell’s character was played by 26-year-old Cody Christian, who made a name for himself on the MTV series Teen Wolf, among other movies and television shows. Newell was very pleased with the choice.

“I mean, he’s a big star, obviously, from his Teen Wolf, and he’s a well-known commodity,” Newell said. “So, when his name came up, I was happy with that. Especially, because I wanted the person that plays me to be a good-looking guy and do me justice. So, he did his thing, and he did a great job acting and capturing the character as well.”

Newell’s last two fights were on the opposite ends of the COVID-19 pandemic, so he had a 20-month layoff in between. He returned at Bellator 260 recently, but a second split-decision loss didn’t sit well with him. For now, he’s enjoying the release of his feature film, but will get back to his fighting career soon enough.

“Right now, I’m a little focused on the movie,” Newell said. “I want everyone to watch it, and enjoy the movie. You can watch or rent it anywhere you buy movies. Once it settles down again, maybe I’ll pick up the training a little bit, and get back in that cage. I’ve been training – I train every day. I’m just getting better at being smart right now.”

Notorious Nick is available today through most online streaming services. The film tells the inspiring story of young man who was born to fight. It’s just icing on the cake that he is still fighting today.

“There’s no official watch party for my movie, right now,” Newell said. “I don’t have anything planned. Just everyone at your house – order the movie, sit down, get some popcorn and enjoy it.”