Following his stellar performance and victory over Vaughan Lee at Cage Warriors 82 in Liverpool, Nathaniel Wood announced to the Echo Arena how he is set to fight for the vacant bantamweight title at Cage Warriors 84 on June 2.
In an interview with MMA Plus, Wood spoke of the moment he was awarded the title shot and what it means to him to have the opportunity to be crowned champion in his hometown of London.
“He [Graham Boylan] literally came in and said you can tell the fans that you’re fighting for the title, so I was overwhelmed obviously when he said that but he didn’t give me an opponent or anything so unfortunately I still don’t yet know who I’m fighting. He just said you can fight for that world title in your hometown in London on June 2.”
Although this was the first time that Wood was told he would be fighting for the belt, he admitted he had a feeling a title shot wasn’t too far away had he won on the night.
“I already had an incline that the winner of us two would be fighting for the belt so I did already kind of know but it was almost like I forgot about that and Graham came in with the reminder and when he said it was going to be in my hometown in London, I had that overwhelming feeling you know that yeah I’m fighting for the world title now.”
June 2 will mark Wood’s ninth professional fight in the capital of England having previously won seven of his last eight bouts in London however he knows a win this time around would mean something more.
“It means everything. I can represent my country and capture a world title and to do it in my hometown literally. The 02 is about 40 minutes from my house, so you know, it means a lot to me.”
Cage Warriors 82 drew in great numbers and gave the London man the platform he needed to show why he deserved a shot at the bantamweight title more than anyone in the division. His opponent Lee was an experienced vet who had fought the likes of TJ Dillishaw and Raphael Assuncao which made his second round TKO victory that more impressive.
Wood is hoping to find out the name of his opponent in the coming days but is just grateful he has finally been recognised and given the opportunity.
“They’re on the case now as far as I’m aware they’ve offered it to I think three people my manager said. He hasn’t told me who though so I’m just waiting for confirmation on who they’ve offered it to and if they all accept I don’t know how they will do that. They might just say I’ve got to choose or they might just pick the best one, but yeah, as far as I’m aware they’re pretty much about to finalize it and I should know within 24 hours from today.”
He then added: “It feels great, I feel like I’m finally getting the recognition I deserve, I’m finally getting the biggest fights so yeah I’ve just got to keep fit for the next 8 weeks and see what I can do.”
Although he is yet to discover the name of the man he’ll be sharing a ring with on June 2, Wood admitted he hopes to face not only a big name but a fighter who will prove an exciting match-up.
“I’d like to pick the fight which is going to make the most exciting one but obviously I want the biggest names so probably whoever is going to draw the most attention you know, but at the same time I’ll speak to my coaches, my manager, and see what they think but I’m not picky. I’m not going to sit there for too long look at the fights think who the best one, who’s going to make the most exciting fight and if Cage Warriors are happy then we’ll get it on.”
No matter who is announced to challenge him for the 135lb title, “The Prospect” can’t see anything other than his hand being raised and the belt being wrapped around his waist come Cage Warriors 84.
“You know I’m never arrogant, but I’m full of confidence, so I believe that anyone in the world, if I turn up with my A game, I can put anyone out. I’m 100% confident that whoever they give me, I’ll finish them within the five rounds.
“You know I believe I’m going to get that belt and then get signed. As I say I’m not being arrogant I’m just 100% confident that whoever they put me in there with on June 2 that I’ll put them out in good fashion so two huge wins in a row that should be enough for me to get signed.”
Despite having eyes set solely on capturing Cage Warriors gold at the moment, Wood made it clear that the UFC was the end goal and that this title fight gives him the platform to get himself there.
“I think that with it being a world title fight, it will get a lot of attention but I don’t know who they are going to give me. I can’t imagine that they’re going to give me any slouch so whoever they get is going to be a big fight, you know, and I think it’ll be more publicity and more people watching than there were for the Vaughan Lee fight.
“I believe that fighting for the world title, this is a fight which I can make an even bigger statement. I believe that Cage Warriors is the biggest show and one of the best platforms to be at outside of the UFC, you know, so if I’m the bantamweight champion where does that put me. I believe that’s going to put me in that number one spot to get signed.”
After only fighting two times in 2016, Wood is looking to be much more active this year and has full confidence in his ability to take him all the way to the top.
“I believe that 2017 is going to be my year, last year I wasn’t active you know I didn’t get to, I had a lot of things come up,cancelled a lot of fights and stuff so this year, I want to be as active as possible and get out into as much limelight as possible. So yeah I believe this is the year that’s going to me move onto the next stage.
“I’m 100% confident and I believe that I’m going to go all the way as I say I’m not cocky, I don’t mean that in an arrogant way but I wouldn’t be doing this if I was only here to take part so I believe I can go all the way.”