XFC president John Prisco discusses Nick Newell’s unwillingness to defend title
How disappointed are you that the Lightweight Championship fight between Nick Newell and Scott Holtzman is not going to happen?
Extremely disappointed. I’ve never had a champion refuse to defend his title. Signed fighters in our organization have put in the time, effort, and literally blood/sweat/& tears. We have some very talented Lightweights and every guy on the roster knows from the beginning they’re going to have to fight the top fighters in the division to get their crack at the belt. Hell, many of the guys in our organization have similar XFC records to Nick Newell. They have paid the price to get to this point in their career. So for Nick to deny Scott Holtzman, or any of those that earn their shot, the same opportunity that he was given, is disrespectful in my eyes. It’s always been our motto, if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. How can that happen, if your Champion will not defend his title. That’s not a true Champion.
Listen, when Nick came to us at the XFC Tryouts, his biggest complaint was that no one would take a fight against him. Everyone was telling him, it’s a no-win situation taking the fight. If you beat him, you beat a guy with half an arm…. and if you lose, you just lost to a guy with half an arm. He knew by signing with our promotion that he was going to be guaranteed fights, as our fighters fight the person I put in front of them. Nick built his name on fighters who were willing to step up and fight him. And now, the opportunity he received, he is not willing to extend to Scott, even though they both carry the same XFC record (4-0). To me, that’s hypocritical and I have zero respect and no room for any individual that acts like that in my organization.
Why do you think Nick was not willing to fight Scott?
I think Nick knows what I believe. He was going to lose. Nick knows he can’t defend himself when someone like Scott puts him on his back. I believe Scott is one of the most talented 155ers on the planet. He’s training on the west coast right now with Benson Henderson for that very reason. In my eyes, I saw the fight going 1st round stoppage – Holtzman by ground and pound.
What went on in the conversations between you, Nick, & his management?
Nick expressed his wishes to me quite some months back, that he wanted to fight ex-UFC fighters, as it would be his best route to the UFC. While I have always said we are not here to be a feeder to the UFC, I understand any fighter wanting to test themselves against those higher in the rankings. Nick was offered to fight Eric Reynolds for that reason. Then Holtzman earned his shot, in much of the same fashion Nick did. Had Nick gotten past Holtzman, we then would have put him up against one of the few new veteran’d Lightweights we are about to sign.
When negotiating with his management regarding this fight, they were telling me about being offered a lot of money to fight for another promotion. We responded that if it’s about money, bring us the best offer and we’ll agree to match that offer. They did, we matched it, and we were again refused by Nick saying he only wants to fight ex-UFC fighters.
So I had to make one of the hardest phone calls that I’ve ever had to make as a promoter, I had to call Scott Holtzman and tell him that the current champion is unwilling to fight him for his earned title shot.
So what’s next, now that Nick Newell is not signing to fight on June 14th to defend his title?
Nick is being stripped of the title and Scott Holtzman will fight June 14th vs a new opponent for the XFC Lightweight Championship Belt. Contracts are going out today and we’ll be making the announcement over the weekend.
Nick is wished the best in his future endeavors and we’ll leave it at that.
Thanks for the time today Mr. Prisco, anything else you want to tell the fans?
Keep your eyes on us as we head into XFC 24: Collision Course in Tampa! We’ll be live on AXS TV to over 40 million homes at 9pm ET on June 14th. The fight card is stacked top to bottom from the pre-lims to the live side. In similar news, the XFC Male AND Female divisions are stacking up! We’re signing a few new seasoned Vet’s and seeking out the next generation of rising stars to add to our already talented divisions. We’re looking to host our next tryout in August, heading west to Albuquerque in Sept., likely going north-east in October, have some big things in the works in Latin America, and plan to close out the year in Nashville at Night of Champions III. For more information, follow us daily on our website and social networks -www.OfficialXFC.com