One-handed fighter Nick Newell set to return in May

Nick Newell will fight Kelvin Hackney in Hartford, Connecticut, on May 31 with CES. Daniel Martinez for ESPN

Nick Newell, a one-handed fighter with a 14-2 professional record, has signed a bout agreement to fight Kelvin Hackney (16-5) on May 31 in Hartford, Connecticut, at CES 56. Newell has not fought since July 2018, when he lost to Alex Munoz by unanimous decision on "Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series." A win would have put him in a position to sign with the UFC.

Despite the long wait to return to the cage, Newell is excited for the opportunity in his home state.

"It feels fantastic to be back out there," Newell said. "I didn't have the performance I would have liked last time, but I know I'm capable of so much more. I know I'm elite in this sport. I need a venue to showcase it, and in front of the hometown crowd is the perfect place to do that."

Newell, 33, is a congenital amputee with a left arm that extends just below his elbow. Though it makes it more difficult to fight, he has thrived in the sport his entire life. Newell was a captain on Western New England University's wrestling team in college and later went pro in MMA in 2009. He began his career 11-0, setting up a World Series of Fighting lightweight title shot against current UFC star Justin Gaethje. Newell lost by second-round TKO.

Newell said the time between his fights had nothing to do with injuries and all to do with fatherhood. He and his wife Danielle had their first child shortly after his last bout, and he needed to focus his time on his family.

"I wanted to be there for her through the pregnancy," Newell said. "There were a lot of unknowns, so my No. 1 priority was as a father. But now I'm ready to start competing again."