Few days ago, the pioneer of English MMA, future UFC hall of famer and former UFC middleweight champion Michael ‘the Count’ Bisping announced his retirement from the sport. Bisping, alongwith other English fighters like Dan Hardy, paved the way for youngsters to pursue MMA by winning the ‘Ultimate Fighter’ season 3 back in 2006.
Bisping however has passed the baton to many young prospects who are ready to stamp their authority in the UFC. One of them is former Cage Warriors bantamweight champion Nathaniel Wood. Wood (13-3) didn’t even need a minute to finish his opponent via KO in his last fight. He faces UFC veteran Johnny Eduardo (28-11) at Fight Night 131 in Utica.
“It was amazing getting that UFC call,” Wood told ESPN. “Finally after nine years of hard work I’m finally at the big league where I can represent my country at the highest level.
“I’m just going to stay the same fighter that I am. I like to think that I’m entertaining. I’ve had 13 wins and only had two decisions so I intend on doing the exact same in the UFC.
“I want to get those finish bonuses so I’m planning on doing exactly what I’ve been doing just on a higher platform.
“I’m looking to get this fight done and done quickly. In good style and make a good impression in the UFC on my debut.
“I’m looking to make a tear up in this division, I’m looking to the top 10 bantamweight rankings so come October, November time, if they put me in there with someone in the top 15 that’s exactly what I want.
“I am literally just enjoying the journey. I haven’t got any nerves going in there, I’m confident in the skillset that I’ve got.”
Last weekend British standout Darren Till met #1 ranked welterweight contender Stephen Thompson in his hometown of Liverpool. Till walked out on a song named ‘Sweet Caroline’ dedicated to Liverpool FC who lost their finals just a day before. Till got a passionate reception from the Liverpool crowd and he didn’t disappoint as he defeated the two-time welterweight title challenger via unanimous decision. Wood is aiming for similar home success in the coming years. (via YouTube):
“I don’t know when the UFC are coming back to London, but definitely if I can get a couple of fights before that, maybe I’ll be able to co-main or main event [the next UFC London card] and do exactly what Darren Till’s just done.
“For me on the walkout I’m just buzzing to get in there. Every fight can be eight to 10 weeks of hard work. I could actually run in there, I’m that eager to get going.
“I try to avoid looking out in the crowd. I don’t actually like to see family or friends because I get other thoughts running through my head. For me it’s just getting in and get done.”