AXS TV has been on fire recently with its Friday Night MMA series. This week, the channel broadcasts XFC 21: Night of Champions II. The main event is for the promotion’s lightweight title, as Eric Reynolds will be taking on Nick Newell. Reynolds has fought in Bellator, and has amassed a 16-5 record as a pro. Newell is undefeated at 8-0, and the ball got rolling towards his title shot by his winning an open fighter tryout with the XFC. So that’s pretty cool. More unusual and impressive? Newell has amassed this record despite fighting with only one arm. Seriously.
If you look at the fighters’ records, you will see that Reynolds has fought more notable opponents, including tilts against Rob Emerson, Jorge Masvidal, and Eddie Alvarez. Since his split decision loss to Emerson, he has won three in a row under the XFC banner to earn a spot in this title fight. Although Newell’s record consists mainly of victories over lesser-known fighters, he has finished seven of those eight opponents in the first round.
Reynolds will provide a good test for whether Newell is a legitimate prospect, or just an attraction going forward. The fight will also serve as a barometer for where Newell’s jiu jitsu is at this point in the 26 year old’s career. Five of Newell’s eight victories have come via submission but, as mentioned, the names defeated are not necessarily a who’s who of mixed martial arts. At the same time, Reynolds has only been submitted twice in his 21 fights, by Masvidal and Alvarez, two of the best in the lightweight division. If Newell can add his name to that short list, it will surely turn heads and shut up anyone who chooses to focus only on Newell’s physical limitations.
I don’t really have a horse in the race when it comes to my rooting interest. That being said, I have been very entertained since I started following Newell on Twitter, and I am a fan of anyone who is a fan of Carl Weathers. Let’s hope that the XFC main event is at least as entertaining as Action Jackson.
The co-main event at XFC 21 features two former UFC fighters in Cory Hill and Ryan Thomas. Hill, if you remember, suffered the most gruesome leg injury in the history of the UFC back in 2008, but has bounced back going 4-2 since. It is also good to see Hill fighting at welterweight, as his 6’4″ frame always seemed dangerously skinny for the lightweight division. Thomas also has big show experience, making appearances in both the UFC and Bellator. In one of those memorable fights, Thomas was the victim of awful officiating, losing to Ben Askren by submission when he neither tapped nor got choked out. He would get a rematch, but was neutralized by the Bellator champ’s suffocating ground game. That won’t be a problem in the fight with Hill, as both guys should be somewhat content to bang it out and keep the action going. All in all, this is a good match-up and should create some fireworks.
In the final feature bout, Stephanie Eggink will be taking on Heather Clark in what should be an exciting 115-pound WMMA bout. Eggink is a former member of the U.S. National Boxing Team, so she is obviously no stranger to slugging it out. She got knocked out in her last fight, however, so it will be interesting to see if she employs a more cautious game plan this Friday so as to avoid potentially suffering the same fate. Clark has a 5-2 record, with all five victories coming via stoppage, so it sounds like a safe bet that this one will feature a lot of action as well.
All in all, XFC sounds like the perfect appetizer to UFC on Fox 5 and a great way to kick off what will be a great month of MMA!