One-handed MMA stud Nick Newell says he's trying like hell to prove he's more than just an awesome story ... telling TMZ Sports he's gunning for star status at Bellator 232 Saturday!!!
Newell -- who was born without a left hand -- has had an unreal career despite his disability ... going 16-2 in pro fights with already one Bellator win under his belt.
But, Nick says he wants much more than that ... and tells us he's going to prove he's among the fighting elite against Manny Muro this weekend.
"I really feel like I’m peaking," Newell says.
"I'm ready to make my way amongst the elite ... so it all starts with me winning this fight and I'm happy to show people things I’ve been saying for years."
Newell last fought back in August against Corey Browning -- winning the tilt by submission ... and he tells us he's actually feeling better heading into THIS fight than that one.
"I'm super relaxed," Newell says. "I'm super comfortable. There's nothing that can happen out there that I haven’t seen already."
The fight with Muro is set for sometime around 7 PM PT on DAZN ... getchya popcorn ready!!!