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January 30, 2019


[NEF Press Release]

Bangor, Maine (January 26, 2019)

There are always burning questions as New England Fights flips the calendar into a new year.

Based on the fan voting at the end of a wild 2018 campaign, one occupies everyone's mind: What can Kam Arnold possibly do for an encore?

Arnold, a relative newcomer from Casco, Maine, posted the second and third opening-round knockouts of his young career, including an 11-second demolition of David Thompson.

He followed that by fighting Killian Murphy on short notice and earning an unforgettable fourth-round stoppage to win the organization's amateur bantamweight title at NEF 34 in June. That decision locked up fighter of the year honors, a distinction that immediately puts the outspoken Arnold (4-0) in some serious company, as he explained in a recent interview on “This Week in MMA” with Craig and Matt Allen of Fight Night Picks.

“It's crazy, because you know what? I never expected it. The way the polls go, its kind of like a popularity contest. I never thought I was going to get past Ryan Sanders, let alone the fan base that he carries and some of the other guys,” Arnold said. “I know I have a great fan base as well. When it comes down to earning it, in my mind without a doubt I was the most deserving, but I was just happy to be in the ballpark with Ryan. He's a big name. He's sculpted his career. He's been battling to get into the UFC for a while now.”

Arnold already harbors similar expectations for himself. He hinted at a major fight announcement in the near future and sees it as a springboard to his continued meteoric rise.

His scrap with Murphy – a substitute after Arnold spent much of his fight camp preparing for the more wiry Mike Crespo – was a testament to the champion's focus and single-minded determination.

“They said, 'You want to fight this?' And I'm like, 'Yeah, that title's mine, I don't care who it is, I'm fighting him.' I had two weeks to prepare for Killian, who is a state champ wrestler, so that changed up my game plan, but (I was confident) as long as I imposed my will,” Arnold said.

“That fight with Killian was a very poor performance for me. I feel like that was a really bad showing in my eyes. Did I show a lot of heart? Yes. And I have a good chin. That's stuff I feel like I already know about myself. I was very disappointed in myself. Not disappointed in the outcome. So don't get me wrong, (it was a) great outcome. I'm just a pretty tough critic, I guess.”

When it was over, Arnold was relieved to find an opponent who finally pushed him. He worried that the series of quick wins over Glenn Kasabian, Kyle Kenney and Thompson weren't conducive to his pursuit of long-term glory.

“It was kind of worrisome honestly, and I'm not trying to make that into a cocky statement at all,” Arnold said. “It was more like, 'OK, when is my test coming, and what is that test going to be like?' The eyes never left the prize. My goal is to be a world champion.”

Other athletes and teams make the most of so-called bulletin board fodder. Some would say the New England Patriots used it to their advantage in the run to their latest AFC championship. When rivals, journalists or even fans utter words that may be veiled insults, they become motivational medicine.

Arnold is no exception. He heard the whispers that he hadn't been tested, or that Murphy was a superior wrestler, or that someone able to take away Arnold's stand-up acumen would enjoy better results.

“I felt in some cases slapped in the face since I first started,” Arnold said. “I think that's what carries the chip on my shoulder. That's why I keep on going, keep on going, keep on going.

“Every camp I find that little something to put the fuel to my fire. A lot of people seem to forget, I'm a wrestler, too, and I've shown that in the very few fights I've had. You look at the blast double that I had on Kyle Kenney. I have very good wrestling (skills). Ask my training partners. So I think a lot of people take my ground game for granted. They're going to see what my jiu-jitsu is like. Don't sleep on it.”

Although he has settled into a comfort zone at 135 pounds, Arnold said he isn't against moving up a weight class or even two if it will help expand his options for opponents.

Being the smaller, underestimated guy doesn't bother him much: Arnold grew up as the youngest child in a family of all boys. He described it to the Allen’s as a rough upbringing in which the last child in life had no choice but to fight for what he wanted.

“We didn't get a lot of opportunity to get out and pursue what I thought back then were never-been dreams. Then I hit what I would call rock bottom and I had no choice,” he said. “I'm a hungry, hungry fighter. A lot of guys are in there to compete. I'm not in there to compete. I'm there to put your lights out. I want to win. I think that really sets me apart from everybody else.”

While Arnold still is making his mark in the amateur ranks, he considers mixed martial arts his profession and career path.

Beginning with the fight he's eyeing on the immediate horizon, every camp this year is a likely building block toward those aspirations.

“I've been dying for 2019 to come along. It's nothing but success this year. I can't wait to turn it up a notch,” Arnold said. “Look for me on the big stage at the end of 2019. It's coming.”

NEF's next mixed-martial-arts event, "NEF 37: SUB ZERO," will take place on Friday, February 1, 2019 at Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, Maine with a bell time of 8 pm.  A very limited number of tickets are still on-sale by contacting NEF directly through its Facebook page "New England Fights."