Morden-based MMA fighter Nathaniel Wood is hoping a fourth consecutive victory will move him into the top 10 of the UFC’s bantamweight division.
He returns to competition on February 15 in New Mexico looking to build on his impressive unbeaten run in the sport’s premier promotion.
His opponent is the UFC veteran John Dodson who has fought many of the division’s biggest names including Demetrious Johnson, T.J. Dillashaw and Petr Yan.
“Dodson is ranked 12th in the division and nobody has ever finished him so if I can go in there, put on a good performance and get the finish then I will hopefully be in the top 10,” Nathaniel said.
“I used to watch him, just as a little fan boy, when he was on ‘The Ultimate Fighter’. That was before I’d had a professional fight, so it is quite surreal that now I am competing against him.
“He has knocked out TJ Dillashaw, the former bantamweight champion, and fought for the flyweight title twice against Demetrious Johnson so I have a lot of respect for him but on February 15 I will be trying to knock him out.
“I always look for the knockout because it gets the crowd excited. I want to be remembered for being exciting and that I gave the people who paid to come and watch me their money’s worth.
“I will look for the knockout but if Dodson wants to try and grapple with me then I will happily take another submission win.”
The 26 year old is focused on his upcoming bout but admitted he also wants to fight on the UFC’s annual London card at The O2 Arena in March.
“I have told my manager to get the UFC to hold me a place on the London card,” he continued.
“As long as I come out of this fight fresh and without injury then I can hopefully get straight back in the gym and keep my weight down.”
At last year’s London event Nathaniel submitted Jose Alberto Quinonez in the second round to secure his third consecutive submission win in the UFC.
“It was a dream come true to win in London with all my family and friends there,” he recalled.
“When I got the win, I looked out into the crowd and could see everyone on their feet cheering – it meant a lot. Even the reaction I got at the weigh-in was one of the highlights of my career so far.
“Fighting in London was amazing so I would love to get back out there with my home crowd behind me.”
Living up to his fighting nickname, ‘The Prospect’ announced his arrival in the UFC by winning three fights in nine months.
His fourth UFC bout next month is his return to competition following an injury sustained in training.
“My arm was the wrong way around. I dislocated it, broke it and tore ligaments – it was well and truly messed it up,” he explained.
“Luckily I didn’t need surgery so it just had to be put back in place.
“I feel as fit as I have ever felt before and I think it is nice that I had some time off to allow my body to rest up properly and recover from all my other little injuries.
“I am ready to go and just looking forward to the fight now.”
Feature image: Dolly Clew.