It took 12 fights, but one-armed MMA fighter Nick Newell suffered his first loss on Saturday.
In the main event of World Series of Fighting 11 — the first MMA card aired on NBC — Newell lost his bid for the WSOF lightweight championship, coming up short in a brutal battle against top UFC prospect Justin Gaethje.
Gaethje’s win puts his MMA record at 12 wins and zero losses, but the victory wasn’t without trouble.
Early minutes into the first round saw Gaethje batter Newell with leg kicks, while Newell returned fire with punches and offensive grappling. Eventually, the action saw Gaethje start to get the better of Newell in every area. Knees to the body, hard hooks, and sharp strikes punctuated the fight, with Newell quickly suffering a facial cut.
At one point, the ringside officials paused things to check the injury, but sent Newell back out.
Everything ended shortly after that, as Gaethje went from body shots to a huge right-hand power shot, forcing a KO stoppage at the 3:09 mark in the second round.
This marks another huge win for Gaethje, who remains one of the most promising fighters in the 155-pound division. Although the lightweight ranks are already stacked with talent, it’s reasonable to assume that the UFC could come calling anytime this year.
For Newell, this likely marks the end of his own UFC hopes.
While there was open doubt that the UFC would ever sign Newell, he’s sure to find plenty of opportunities with WSOF and other regional MMA circuits.
However, the one-armed fighter faced some cardio limitations against Gaethje, which could be worrisome against stronger opponents. There’s also nothing to speak of whatever compensations Newell makes for his arm, as far as striking and grappling go. Regardless, Newell was able to give Gaethje some trouble, so there’s likely to be some interesting matches for him further down the road.