Nick NewellWhile the first half of 2013 was at times chaotic for lightweight up-and-comer “Notorious” Nick Newell, he’s looking to finish the year strong.

Following an acrimonious split with the XFC, where he was their reigning 155-pound champion, Newell signed with the World Series of Fighting, and after an eight-month layoff, he’s ready to return to the fight game.

“Staying in the gym is the best way for me to deal with anything that comes my way,” said Newell. “I made a move that was best for my career and I’m happy I made it.

“I don’t really let outside factors affect how I fight. I have great coaches and a great team and I’m going to be ready no matter what. Some things happened that I didn’t really like, so I did my best to not let it get to my head.”

Newell told that he feels like he used his time off well and has become a much-improved fighter over the last several months.

“The thing is, my last fight (against Eric Reynolds in December) was kind of short, so you couldn’t get much of my game,” said Newell. “But basically, I’ve gotten better and have improved my striking and grappling. I’ve just gotten more comfortable and better at putting everything together.”

When Newell makes his promotional debut at WSOF 4 on the NBC Sports Network on Aug. 10 from Ontario, Calif., he will be facing fellow top prospect and fellow newcomer Keon “Black Assassin” Caldwell.

“He’s a finisher and finishes a lot in the first round like me, so I’m expecting a strong start and a lot of fireworks,” Newell said of Caldwell.

“I see some openings and mistakes he makes that I can capitalize on. Of course, everyone thinks I have an advantage on the ground, but it looks like he’s pretty good on the ground too. I think the key is mixing things up and not let him know if I’m going to strike, wrestle or grapple. If I keep him on his toes, I think that’s what will win me the fight.”

If there’s one bout to watch on Aug. 10, Newell thinks it’s his fight with Caldwell because of the explosiveness of both fighters.

“You’ve got two guys that don’t really know the judges too well and come out with guns blazing, so it could be Fight of the Night,” he said. “I guarantee you it will be something of the night – Submission of the Night, Knockout of the Night – it’s going to be something you’ll remember.”

Now that he’s settled in with the WSOF, Newell is looking to get back to the business of proving himself to be one of the top young lightweights in the world.

“I have a four-fight contract with them, and I wouldn’t mind getting in all four fights within a year,” he said. “I want to stay active.

“I’m 27 now and I feel great. I’m a couple years from my prime, and I have a lot of improvement to do, but I feel like I’m up there, can compete with anyone, and just want to test myself.”

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