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Nick Newell announces retirement after WSOF 24 victory;
Fitch beats Okami in main event

Tom Marcellino, left and Nick Newell at WSOF 24.
Tom Marcellino, left and Nick Newell at WSOF 24.
Photo by John Fulcher
By Brian Woodman Jr.

   Milford native Nick Newell (13-1) announced his retirement following his victory over Tommy Marcellino (7-5) at World Series of Fighting 24, which was held at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket on Oct. 17. It proved to be one of the most memorable moments in an evening that included a card with two title fights and three UFC veterans.
   Twenty-nine-year-old Newell, who won an unanimous decision that elicited mixed reactions, admitted afterward that he was not happy about his performance that evening despite clinching the win. Marcellino, who was not available for comment, appeared visibly displeased with the decision.
   During the first round, a vocally supported crowd chanted “let’s go, Nick” as Newell escaped from a guillotine choke and secured one of his own before transitioning to an arm bar from which Marcellino escaped. Newell escaped from another guillotine choke during the second round and attempted a rear naked choke. Marcellino appeared to be more aggressive as the fight progressed, almost trapping Newell in another guillotine choke in the third round and dropping bombs on him near the end of the bout.
   “It’s been a long time coming,“ said Newell about his retirement during a press conference after the event. “My last three camps I have not been able to really show what I’m really capable of. My knowledge is getting higher and I’m getting better at this sport but my body is not able to keep up the way I used to. I was never a natural at any thing I did. Everything I got I earned through hard work. It takes a toll on you.”
   Newell, who trains with Fighting Arts Academy in Springfield, Massachusetts, appeared emotional as he mentioned the injuries that he felt were impeding his training. He referred to himself as “a kid lost his first 17 wrestling matches and then worked his way toward a world title,“ adding that he wanted to offer only the best performances for his fans.
   “I do not want to be the guy who fights for a paycheck,“ he said.
   He is considering either coaching or broadcasting as he next step in his professional life, he said. While he did not rule out the possibility of a return to fighting, he hinted it was unlikely.
   “I’m not that 25 year old kid who come out like a whirling dervish looking for blood,” he said.

John Fitch, left, and Yushin Okami compete in the main event at Foxwoods on Oct. 17.
John Fitch, left, and Yushin Okami compete in the main event at Foxwoods on Oct. 17.
Photo by John Fulcher
   Welterweight Jon Fitch (27-7-1) used wrestling to trump fellow UFC veteran Yushin Okami (30-10) during the main event, winning by decision. Former middleweight Okami caught Fitch with a guillotine choke in the third round but Fitch generally dominated the fight with takedowns and grinding. There were a few strikes thrown, but most of the fight was on the ground or against the fence.
   Fitch said afterward he would next fight former UFC welterweight Jake Shields. No date for the fight has been set.
   The main card opened with a five-round championship fight between 125-pounders Magomed Bibulatov (10-0) and Donavon Frelow (4-1) to fill the vacant flyweight title. Bibulatov won by decision, becoming the organization’s first flyweight champion. Frelow almost secured a guillotine choke on Bibulatov during the third round, but the latter dominated most of the action despite a third-round stoppage when he sustained a kick to the groin.
   Former UFC fighter Matt Hamill (11-6) fought Vinny Magalhaes (13-7) during the event. Hamill landed a few shots and attempted to use his wrestling background but gave up an arm and narrowly escaped a submission attempt. Magalhaes subsequently caught his leg and submitted him with a knee bar at about one minute into the first round.

Heavyweights Blagoy, left and Derrick Mehmen compete at WSOF 24.
Photo by John Fulcher
   The co-main event was a heavyweight title fight between belt holder Blagoy Ivanov (13-1) and Derek Mehmen (19-7). Ivanov pummeled Mehmen during the first round and stalked the bleeding challenger. Mehmen, although bleeding profusely, actually taunted Ivanov during the second round by spreading his arms out and began to put some pressure on him. 
   But Ivanov caught Mehmen with a shot to the face and sent him reeling. As Mehmen fell to the ground clutching his face, Ivanov began dropping bombs on him. The referee quickly waved the fight off at about 4:33 and Ivanov won by TKO.

   (Editor’s note: we will post the preliminary results on our blog).