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Newcomer Nathaniel Wood looking for quick climb to title: ‘I’d get in there with Dillashaw tomorrow’

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Dolly Clew/Cage Warriors

One of the U.K.’s most promising young stars, Nathaniel Wood, makes his first walk to the Octagon on Friday night in Utica, but he already has eyes on the bantamweight division’s champion T.J. Dillashaw.

Experienced Brazilian campaigner Johnny Eduardo will welcome him to the cage. Despite Eduardo’s vast experience advantage — he fights for the 40th time on Friday night — Wood is quite happy with his first assignment as he thinks wins over opponents like the veteran will allow him to climb the rankings quickly.

“It’s an ideal fight for me. Johnny Eduardo has been around a long time — it’s a high risk, high reward kind of fight for me. It’s exactly what I want because I want to fight guys who will push me up through the rankings,” Wood told MMA Fighting.

“If I had a choice in it, I’d get in there with Dillashaw tomorrow, so I want to move though the division as quickly as possible so I can get in the mix for that title shot.”

“The Prospect” comes into the UFC fold on the back of a stellar run as Cage Warriors bantamweight champion. He noted that the retirement of another former Cage Warriors champion, Michael Bisping, has come at a good time due to amount of young talent the U.K. currently boasts.

With Bisping a mainstay in London main events and Darren Till headlining an event in his hometown last weekend, Wood hopes to establish himself as a prominent fixture when the UFC return to his neck of the woods.

“Bisping was our first UFC champion, he means a lot to all of the guys who are competing today,” said Wood. “Now that he’s retiring it feels fitting that there are so many up and comers at the moment who can do the same thing.

“We see Darren Till making waves in the welterweight division at the moment, I really think I can do the same thing in the bantamweight division. Obviously, Darren has headlined an event in his hometown. Hopefully I’ll get the ball rolling here and we can look towards me getting a headline slot at the future London events.”

The Londoner doesn’t see any reason why a win over Eduardo wouldn’t propel him into a fight with a ranked opponent.

“If I put Johnny Eduardo away in convincing fashion, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be pushing for a fight against someone in the top 15 and then I can work my way up from there,” he said.

“I’m happy to go with anyone in the UFC so whoever they have planned for me, I’ll be happy with that. Once my opponents keep pushing me up to the top of the division I’ll be a happy man.”

As first mentioned on The MMA Hour, Wood still likes the idea of reclaiming the UFC losses of his mentor and UK MMA legend, Brad Pickett.

“I’d love to get in there with the guys who beat Brad. I’d like to try to rectify that for him and I think it makes for a pretty cool story too because I’ve always got him behind me in my corner.”