Nathaniel Wood stole all the headlines that came out of Cage Warriors 92: Super Saturday in London with his first-round knockout of Luca Iovine.
After registering his second bantamweight title defense, his hometown crowd chanted “UFC” and even Cage Warriors president, Graham Boylan, claimed that it was time for “The Prospect” to sign on the dotted line with the world’s flagship MMA promotion.
As far as Wood is concerned, he’s long been prepared for an Octagon debut.
“I think I’ve been ready for the UFC for the last two-and-a-half years, but now I can say it because of how my record has gone and how my wins have been,” Wood told Ariel Helwani on the latest episode of The MMA Hour.
“I’m more than ready now. Now, I think I can go in there and I’d be ready to take on the top-10. For Graham to back that, to me that makes sense. He knows it’s the truth and I think a lot of the people know it’s the truth. Cage Warriors are a good promotion for me to be with. I think they do have the fighter’s best interest at heart. I think if (Boylan) thinks I’m ready for the UFC, that speaks for itself.”
Wood underlined that he will not beg the UFC to come and get him. He believes his fighting ability is enough to get him to the big dance, whereas others have to grovel because it’s “their only way in.”
“It’s a confidence thing. I’m ready for the UFC and I’ll be in the UFC, so I won’t beg,” Wood said. “I know they’re coming to me, and if they don’t, it’s their loss. A lot of people need to beg to get into the UFC because that’s their only way in. To me, my fighting does the talking. If the UFC doesn’t come, I’ll knock another guy out until they eventually do come. But I’ll never beg any man for anything.”
If the UFC doesn’t sign him up now, it just gives him an opportunity to grow his brand even more under the Cage Warriors banner.
“I won’t be disappointed because I know I’ll eventually get there. What Cage Warriors do very well is they promote me very well. I’m a big fish in a little pond,” he explained. “When I get to the UFC straightaway I know that I’m not going to be a big fish and I won’t necessarily get the promotion right from the start. Every fight that I have outside of the UFC just means that I’m going to get even bigger and I’m going to grow even more, so when I do get into the UFC, I’ll be an even bigger name.
“In the long run, it will be better for me. I’ll have as many fights as I need to get there, and when I do get there I’ll be an even bigger star.”
Wood insisted that he wants to do for the bantamweight division what countryman Darren Till has done at welterweight.
“Honestly, I would take anyone they gave me in the UFC,” Wood said. “I’m ranked No. 1 in England now since Brad (Pickett) has retired. I feel like he’s passed the torch to me and someone has to go in there and tear the division up. I honestly believe that’s me.
“There’s a new wave of guys coming from the UK. We’ve got Darren Till taking over the welterweight division and I believe I’m the guy to do it at bantamweight.”
Wood took just 50 seconds to finish Iovine at The Indigo at The 02. After leaving the fight unscathed, he believes it’s his destiny to debut at UFC Liverpool on May 27.
“That would be amazing,” stated Wood.“I feel like that’s destiny because after the fight on Saturday I’ve come out uninjured and unscratched. If that’s not a sign that I should fight in nine weeks time I don’t know what is.
“I’d have a week of this week. I could binge and have some cake, enjoy life for a week and then I have eight weeks to prepare. I’m in shape now. It would be the perfect scenario right before summer to make my UFC debut, that would be a dream come true … and in England, I couldn’t ask for a better scenario.”