After two wins in two outings under the UFC banner, the promise of former Cage Warriors bantamweight champion Nathaniel Wood is no secret to diehard MMA fans.
However, his legendary British coach Brad Pickett believes “The Prospect” will open himself up to a whole new audience if he banks a victory against Jose Quinones at his hometown event on Saturday.
“One Punch” revealed that when Wood was handed his sophomore outing against Andre Ewell in Las Vegas he underlined his intent to get a spot on the London card to UFC brass. With the fight just days away, the former UFC fighter underlined his excitement for fans who get to see Wood in action for the first time and for the fighter himself.
“When they offered him a fight in Las Vegas he said, ‘I’ll take it, but I want to make sure I’m on that London card.’ That means the world to him,” Pickett told Eurobash.
“A young boy fighting in front of 18,000 people that are going to cheer for him…I’m excited for him to experience what I’ve been through. I’m excited for the U.K. fans who haven’t experienced him on T.V. or with Cage Warriors to see him live. I’m excited for them as fans and him as a fighter.”
A name synonymous with the English capital, Pickett thinks Wood is already filling his boots when it comes to satisfying the London fan base.
“100 percent [Nathaniel Wood can be the next big UFC fighter from London]. He’s already filling my boots. He’s already had two fights in the UFC and he’s got two finishes. You saw all his fights in Cage Warriors; they’re all finishes. He’s not just winning fights, he’s finishing and that’s always exciting,” he said.
“To be honest, as a coach now I look at opponents and I can’t see this guy lasting three rounds with Nathaniel. It’s not that I just think Nathaniel is going to win, I think he’s going to finish him.”
Pickett has high hopes for Wood and noted a turning point in the young Londoner when he defeated UFC veteran Vaughan Lee in 2017. With a win on Saturday, he is confident his protege can earn a spot in the rankings by next year.
“I’ve always looked at this kid and thought, ‘He has the talent,’ but you never know if they have it mentally. As a coach, I see it in a lot of fighters where a performance can just switch something in their mind,” Pickett said.
“It was just back in the day when I just retired, he was making his Cage Warriors return and he fought Vaughan Lee; Vaughan Lee being a UFC veteran. He looked so good in that fight against Vaughan Lee and I think that was a real turning point in his brain. He start thinking, ‘You know what? I could make it in the UFC’. It was just one of those things and when that switches in a fighter and they get that self-belief [it’s huge]. He’s not cocky or arrogant, but he has that self-belief where he’s like, ‘I could do this,’ and from there he’s just better and better, and more dedicated as well.
“He’s not just in the UFC to make up the numbers, he’s going to make waves. I could easily believe that he’ll be in the top five or ten by next year.”
Check out the latest episode of Eurobash. The Brad Pickett interview begins at 15:30.