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Londoner Nathaniel Wood got his career back on track with an impressive win at UFC London in July after a lengthy lay-off – and is ready to kickstart a winning streak in Paris this weekend.
The Prospect takes on Charles Jourdain to open the main card in the first ever UFC event in France, having been inspired by his purposeful victory over Charles Rosa which came on his featherweight debut in July.
Speaking exclusively to Daily Star Sport, Wood said ahead of UFC Fight Night: Gane vs. Tuivasa: "It feels good to be active, I've got my purpose back in life let's say.
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"Having been injured… when you're a fighter and you can't fight it sucks man. It's a weird feeling so I'm back doing what I love to do and I'm enjoying it."
Wood was left heartbroken to miss out on the first UFC London card of the year after Vince Morales was forced out through injury – but was grateful to receive his full pay packet from UFC president Dana White.
The 29-year-old says: "I still went but it was breaking my heart. When I was seeing the fighters come out it was a real kick in the balls. But it was an amazing event and even more motivation for me to get back in there."
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Adding on White: "He sorted me out, still paid me for my fight even though Vince Morales pulled out so for me he looks after his fighters. From my experience, he's a very good boss to have."
Wood, 29, wasted no time in booking a follow up to his three-round decision victory and was handed a bout against Canadian challenger Jourdain (13–5–1) who was also active in the summer.
Wood, who hails from Morden and trains under MMA icon Brad Pickett at Great Britain Top Team, has a record of 18-5 and is a former Cage Warriors Bantamweight Champion.
He added of his upcoming eighth bout in the world's leading MMA promotion: "It's a historic event and it's a pleasure to be a part of it. The UFC's first ever event in France and hopefully I can be the best fighter on the night, that would be special."
With former heavyweight title challenge Ciryl Gane leading the event on home soil against rising star Tai Tuivasa, Robert Whittaker takes on fellow frustrated middleweight Marvin Vettori at the Accor Arena.
The organisation's debut in France comes after a lengthy political battle – with MMA only being legalised in the country in 2020 following approval from the French National Olympic and Sports Committee.
With European MMA on the rise, Birmingham's Leon Edwards became the UK's second ever UFC champion after Michael Bisping with his stunning KO of P4P king Kamaru Usman – to leave Wood feeling inspired.
He adds: "Yeah I'm proud of him. It's nice to have another Brit bring a belt home to the UK and hopefully the world have noticed that we can produce champions and maybe one day I can bring a belt back to London.
"I've always known that you can win a belt from the UK. I've seen the level around the United States and around the world and I think that we can compete and Leon is just that proof that some people needed. But I know we can compete with anyone in the world."
Following that stunning Salt Lake City triumph, Edwards is expected to defend his belt on home soil early next year – giving British fighters including Wood a scheduling conundrum.
Wood concludes: "I don't have a clue when it might be but I will wait.
"If they are having a stadium event then I will wait for that. I'm one of the only London fighters in the UFC so they've got to make sure I'm on that."
Watch Nathaniel Wood take on Charles Jourdain at UFC Paris: Gane vs Tuivasa live from 6pm (8pm main card) on Saturday 3 September on BT Sport 3HD and across digital platforms.
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