It was only 106 days ago when Nathaniel Wood was crowned London’s first ever Cage Warriors champion, securing a first round victory over Marko Kovacevic in his hometown at Cage Warriors 84.
Tonight Cage Warriors returns to the capital where Wood will try to emulate his previous success as he looks to secure the first defence of his bantamweight belt against undefeated Welshman Joshua Reed in the main event of Cage Warriors 86.
In an interview with MMA Plus, Wood reflected on becoming champion, a moment he described as the best of his career.
“That was by far the best feeling in my career, to be the first London champion and being able to represent my hometown on one of the higher platforms in the sport we’re doing really was a dream come true and when I looked up and saw how many people were actually standing up and cheering you know it took me back. I’ve always had a good crowd with me but to see that amount of people really took me by surprise. It feels great to know I’ve got all these people behind me.”
Wood on fighting in his hometown: I honestly felt invincible
The London man will once again fight in his hometown, a factor in which Wood believes is invaluable and makes him even more determined to walk away with the win.
“Being in my home crowd in that last fight when I went out there and had that support and the cheers behind me I honestly felt invincible you know, I thought that there was no one that could touch me. So doing it again in London, great it makes my life easier. I’ve got to get on a train for half an hour and I’m at the venue, I can sell a hell of a lot more tickets than if I was fighting in Liverpool so getting to fight in London is for me the best place I can be and have the most support from my people.”
Despite being crowned champion in his hometown where he received overwhelming support, “The Prospect” believes defending his belt tonight will be bigger and better.
“This time around is going to be even bigger, I’ve sold a lot more tickets I’ve got a lot more support. Cage Warriors I think they said a lot of it is because they’re now on the Saturday, you know the venue has pretty much sold out so I’m just assuming the atmosphere is going to be absolutely buzzing in there. I mean if I can top the last one amazing, if I can match the last one, amazing you know so I’m really looking forward to it and defending it in my home town again, it sounds cringey because it’s not the UFC or anything but it’s a dream come true.”
The Englishman is currently riding a three-fight win streak and is going from strength to strength even labelling himself as feeling ‘invincible’. However Wood says his comments are only evidence of his confidence and should not be taken as arrogance.
“I’m not cocky I’m not arrogant I’m just confident. For me I put the work in, I’ve been absolutely grafting for the past 8 or so years so I’m 100% confident of the training and coaching that I get and you know I’m always going to go in there with my A game and I believe I’m going to come out the winner, I’ve got the crowd there supporting me so honesty I feel bulletproof right now.”
Wood: I’m a big step up in his career
Joshua Reed is one of the promotions biggest prospects currently holding a record of 7-0 with all but one coming by way of stoppage. This meant little to Wood however who spoke of how he envisions securing a first round finish but will not make the mistake of underestimating his opponent.
“I think Josh is a very tough opponent, he brings it. I don’t feel he’s been tested at all, I think he’s only fought two fighters with more wins than losses. I’m not looking past Josh in any way it’s MMA gloves, one shot could be all it takes, one submission could be all it takes. You know I’ve got my A game so I feel like as long as I don’t make a mistake I’m going to go out there and put him out in the first round. I think for me he’s not a step up fight at all but for him I’m a big step up in his career so I feel the pressure is on him,” said Wood.
“If I’m honest I’ve looked at him and I think he’s good everywhere, he’s an MMA fighter and I think I’m the same but I’m just above him at all levels. If he wants to take it to the ground I think I’m better there, if he wants to keep it standing I think it’s better there aswell so for me I go in there, make no mistakes, bring my A game and I think I’m going to walk out the winner.”
The Welshman is an explosive and entertaining fighter and Wood expects Reed to no different this evening. He anticipates him to be fired up due to the occasion and believes this will ultimately prove to be his opponents downfall.
“Yeah I think Josh is going to come out very aggressive, if he does I think I’ll put him out in the first round. A lot of these fighters think that putting pressure on me is a good thing for them but believe me it’s not. If he’s a bit more hesitant then you know maybe it could go on a little bit longer, it’s a five round fight. If he comes out the way I think he might, I definitely could get the first round finish.”
The bantamweight champ sees no other fate than him walking away the victor tonight and spoke of how defending his title is only the tip of the iceberg for him.
“I honestly believe this is my destiny, this is what I’m here to do so I’m going to come out there, I’m bringing my A game and I’m confident on getting my hand raised at the end of it,” said Wood.
“When you see me, expect fast paced fights and exciting fights. I’d like to think I bring it every time and expect me to be calling out the top 10 in the UFC division in a years time.”