UFC Utica: Nathaniel Wood is raring to go ahead of UFC debut and tough test against Johnny Eduardo

The last couple of months have been a whirlwind for London’s Nathaniel Wood.

After a pair of impressive first-round finishes in his two Cage Warriors bantamweight title defences, punctuated by his spectacular knockout of Luca Lovine in 50 seconds, Wood was called up to the UFC roster just a couple of weeks later. In under three months, Wood will transform from Cage Warriors champion to UFC prospect making his Octagon debut. This isn’t anything new for the 25 year old, he is known as “The Prospect,” after all.

And Wood’s first opponent on the big stage is quite the UFC litmus test – savvy Brazilian veteran Johnny Eduardo.

While excited at the grand opportunity to fight under the UFC banner, Wood is a little sad to leave Cage Warriors behind. “It was amazing getting the call up to the UFC,” Wood said. “I’ve been training and working hard for nine years so it’s great to finally reach the pinnacle of the sport. There is a little sadness leaving Cage Warriors but I’m enjoying being a UFC fighter now.”

Wood has a penchant for the exciting. The Londoner is currently riding a five-fight win streak, all by stoppage, with the last three being finished inside five minutes. The first of that run came against UFC veteran Vaughan Lee. The Prospect is confident his style will translate well in the upper echelons of the sport and in his debut fight against Eduardo.

“I’m going to stay the same fighter that I am,” Wood said. “I’m entertaining, I’ve had 13 wins in my career and only two of my fights have gone to a decision.

“Expect a fast-paced fight. I’m motivated and I’m not looking to put on a boring performance and just edge a win. I want to go in there and get a performance bonus.

“Johnny Eduardo is a great guy for me to debut against but if I can put on a good performance I feel ready to take on someone in the top 10 next.”

In both his talent and exciting fighting style, Wood owes a lot to long-time trainer and former UFC bantamweight Brad Pickett – his coach at London’s Titan Fighter gym.

Pickett’s influence on Wood’s all-action fighting style is clear to see. That stands Wood in good stead, considering Pickett was once named as UFC President Dana White’s favourite fighter on the UFC roster.

“It feels good to be in the same spot as Brad Pickett, I’m representing the team and leading the way now. Hopefully more of them can follow in my footsteps,” Wood added.

With the news of Britain’s first and only UFC champion Michael Bisping’s retirement emerging on Monday, British MMA fans will be yearning for another champion to put the U.K. back on the sport’s map.

Darren Till certainly made an impression at the UFC’s first visit to Liverpool on Sunday in front of a partisan crowd, and Wood believes the support of the British public will spur him on to great things in the UFC.

“I feel like I’ve got an army of supporters at home. It’s good to have that momentum and level of support backing me.”

If Wood impresses in a tough first test in Eduardo, he will cement himself as a future player in the UFC’s ultra-competitive bantamweight division.

 

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Jake Hughes

Jake Hughes

Jake Hughes is an MMA writer who has covered the sport since 2013 for publications such as Vice Sports, Fightland, Sherdog and now Fighters Only, where he serves as freelance digital editor.