Cage Warriors bantamweight champion Nathaniel Wood is making a habit of going viral every time he competes.
His latest offering, a back and forth war with previously unbeaten Welshman Josh Reed, stretched far beyond The Indigo at The 02 in London. After Reed rocked the Londoner early on, he fired back with some power shots of his own forcing veteran referee Marc Goddard to step in and stop the action.
“I would’ve liked to take less shots than I did, but if it wasn’t for me taking a bit of a kicking it wouldn’t have went viral so it’s a bit of a blessing in disguise I guess,” Wood told MMAFighting.com after the win, which many believe brought a close to one of the greatest rounds in Cage Warriors history.
The Cage Warriors brand seems to be in better place than it has been since the era of Conor McGregor. After an 18-month hiatus the promotion returned in 2016, and young stars like Paddy Pimblett and now Nathaniel Wood are creating a lot of buzz in the UK.
“Cage Warriors have been pushing me really well, there seems to be a good buzz in London when I fight,” Wood complimented the promotion.
“A lot of other shows you get people showing up to see one guy, but I think people know that when they go to a Cage Warriors show they’re going to see well matched fights. It’s all about the sport with these guys.
“Other shows have to put guys from the Geordie Shore (UK version of Jersey Shore) on their cards to get people interested, but like with the UFC, people expect a certain standard of MMA when they go to a Cage Warriors show.”
With consecutive viral finishes of UFC veteran Vaughan Lee, formerly unbeaten Marco Kovacevic and Reed, the masses are calling for a UFC debut for Wood, but he’s in no rush to put pen to paper.
“A lot of people feel like UFC is the be all and end all. Let’s say you sign with the UFC and you get two fights and you lose both of those fights – you’re no longer signed with the UFC,” he explained.
“For me, that’s not worth it. I’ve been training my bollocks off for eight years solidly, I don’t want to just get to the UFC, say I got there, have two or three fights, lose them and then say, ‘I used to be in the UFC.’
“I want to get to the UFC and dominate the whole division and build a legacy for myself. For me there’s no rush. The more fights I have outside of the UFC, and the more of a name I build for myself, the better it will be for me in the long run.
“To many fighters think too short term. They’re trying to make a quick buck and I’m trying to make an investment.
“Cage Warriors are giving me promotion that I couldn’t dream about getting for my first few fights in the UFC. That’s worth more than gold to me right now.
He added: “There’s nothing as cringy as when you see a young fighter crying about getting to the UFC. You see so many of them tweeting Dana White saying, ‘I’ll fight anyone’, but that’s just not for me.
“When the UFC want to sign me, then we can talk. I don’t want to keep tweeting them and hope they take pity on me. I want them to think, ‘Wow, why haven’t we tried to sign this kid?’”
On top of his dynamic skillset and his exciting victories, Wood has a bona fide UK MMA legend in his corner in Brad Pickett – a man whose wisdom as proved invaluable to him on his ascent.
“Brad’s been here since the very beginning,” he said.
“There isn’t a lot in the fight game that he hasn’t experienced – he’s been there, done that and got the t-shirt. It’s amazing for me to have a legend like him in my corner and to know that he only has my best interest at heart.
“I feel like I’ve learned from everything he has gone through without having to go through it myself.”
After his big win over Reed, Wood insisted that he would sit out the rest of 2017, but when he returns a UFC veteran would be the perfect way to bolster his stock on the international scene.
“Another UFC veteran would be ideal. I don’t want people to see me winning well against some old can, I want someone who has achieved things in the game. Cage Warriors have done a great job of getting opponents for me so far, and I know it will be another hard test when I get back to action next year.”