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Joanne Wood explains long absence from fighting, probably only has ‘another year or two’ left in her career

Joanne Wood isn’t oblivious to her recent record or the narrative that will likely surround her return to action at UFC 286 in London.

With three losses in a row on her resume, the 37-year-old veteran understands that she might be facing Luana Carolina in a do-or-die situation but rather than allowing that to serve as a distraction, she’s just staying upbeat with designs on winning.

“I mean in a way, if I don’t beat this girl, yeah [it’s important] but I’ve still got one more fight on my contract,” Wood explained on The MMA Hour. “I’m trying not to put that pressure on myself but I feel like this girl is a perfect fight for me to get back in the win column. Just go in there and I’m excited to go back on that side of the pond and fight. The London cards have been great so I’m just excited.

“Trying not to put that pressure on myself cause I’ve done that in the past. This is going to be awesome, this is going to be fun and just going over there and doing what I do every day.”

Her return will happen almost exactly one year after her most recent appearance in the UFC, which came in a first-round submission loss to future UFC flyweight champion Alexa Grasso.

Looking back now, Wood confesses that she faced Grasso while dealing with an injury but that’s a fairly common practice among fighters. The difference for Wood was her desire to stay busy taking fights and that didn’t allow her much time to actually stay healthy.

“The last fight with Grasso, I tore my quad two weeks before that fight,” Wood revealed. “Then before that, I injured my finger so I was just like I was wanting to stay active because staying active is great when you’re winning or when you’re body’s feeling good.

“So I just felt this isn’t going my way so maybe I need to take some time out and get my body back to feeling somewhat normal. We’ll always have those little nagging injuries but for what we do, we should be going in there at, at least 90 percent would be good.”

According to Wood, a big part of her desire to fight through injuries and just keep a busier schedule was partially due to future plans to start a family but she also couldn’t ignore her age.

She saw fighters with her same level of experience calling it a career and Wood began to wonder if perhaps the sand in the hourglass was starting to run out on her as well.

“It was really tough and then you’ve got the whole I’m getting older,” Wood said. “I’ve only got two more fights on my contract. Back then, I was rushing things because I felt like I wanted to have a family and everyone around me are retiring so that pressure as well. I put that pressure on myself to stay active and just keep fighting.

“Like I said before, that’s all good if your body’s holding up but I should have been wiser and I don’t know why after so long fighting and being in this game, that I’m not. I guess it’s just the fighter mentality. You just think it’s going to be OK, I’m going to win, everything’s going to be dandy. But at the end of the day, now I’m not young. I can’t be dumb and just do it anyway.”

Wood knows she can’t fight forever but she’s particularly aware that her time in MMA is dwindling down, although she’s not setting a deadline for retirement.

“I’ve probably only got another year or two in the sport,” Wood said. “We’ll see what happens in this next year. I’m getting old. I’m an old lady.”

Time will run out eventually but for now Wood says she’s in a much better place heading into UFC 286 than she had been for her previous two fights, especially with a much-needed break over the past year.

“I just wanted to work on those things and take a little reset,” Wood said. “That was three losses in a row there so I just felt instead of pushing and trying to get back in there, just take some time and get my body feeling good and UFC were good with that. I feel like it did me good.

“I feel awesome. The worst thing that’s happened to me in this camp is I tripped. I ran over a boulder and chipped my new Tesla so I’m good. I’m feeling good. My last two fights, I had big injuries going into the fight and I just feel like if that’s the worst that can happen. My body feels good. I’m excited. I had a year off, reset, and I’m ready to get back in there.”

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