Nathaniel Wood: If Marlon Vera won’t fight at UFC London, give me Cody Garbrandt

MMA Fighting

Nathaniel Wood has been gunning for Marlon Vera — the last man to fight his coach Brad Pickett in the Octagon — since his UFC signing last year. Although many believe a meeting between Wood and Vera could be in the cards for March 21 at UFC London, “The Prospect” isn’t convinced that it’s going to happen.

Unbeaten under the UFC banner with three stoppage wins in as many outings, should Wood’s next outing fall in his hometown it will be one year since his last appearance. The Londoner can’t think of a better assignment to have at The o2 than “Chito”.

“I’d like to think it’s going to happen, but I don’t think that he wants to fight. He said, ‘I’ve got the pen ready and all of that’, but he said that a year and a half ago and nothing’s happened from it,” Wood told MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast.

“He said to me once on Twitter about fighting me, I had set a date and he said, ‘No, you do nothing for me,’ and that kind of stuff. I just said, ‘Fine, whatever,’ and then he went and fought a guy that I had just beat, a guy that I beat last year, he’s only just gone and fought him. That just leaves me in confusion – do you want to step up or not? If he was stepping up and fighting the Top 10 I’d be like, ‘Okay, fair enough,’ because everyone is going to take the fights that are going to get them up there. He hasn’t, and as far as I’m concerned, the guy he just beat, I already beat him last year. And I thought in the first round of that fight he was definitely losing it, it didn’t look like it was an easy win.”

Given the narrative and the heat between them, Wood thinks a clash with Vera would be perfect for a hometown bout.

“100 percent that’s a fight I want to have. It’s good fun as well, there’s a story behind it – he’s beat my coach. It makes for an exciting fight. At the end of the day, I’ll fight anyone the UFC gives me, but that would make me get out of bed a little bit more in the morning. There’s a little something more to it. I’m all for it.”

“The Prospect” heaped praise on Vera’s aggressive fighting style but criticized his performance when it comes to verbal warfare.

“He’s a fighter who comes to fight – that’s what I like. From watching his fighting style, he’s not afraid to come in and have a fight. I know he’ll come to enemy territory, that’s obviously what he did with Brad. Stylistically, the way I look at him is I’d beat him in all areas, but he’ll probably say different. There’s only one way to find out and that’s what I’m down to do – I’m down to fight so let’s put it on there,” said Wood. “We’ve had a bit of back and forth on Twitter. Obviously, he was getting fired up and I was like, ‘Mate, I was just having a bit of banter,’ but you could tell he was getting angry about it.”

“I don’t think they get the banter,” Wood added. “He ended up saying something like he’d put his balls in my mouth or something like that! It was a little bit weird that one, so I decided to stop with that little back and forth because it was getting a bit weird.”

The English bantamweight believes that a fight with Vera would have happened already if “Chito” wanted it to happen.

“I’ve been there saying to him, ‘Let’s fight – I can’t remember what date I said – i think it was August. He said, ‘No, that’s too long for me, I’m fighting in July.’ It’s like a month’s difference. If you wanted to fight you’d wait a month. So, yeah, he’s the only guy I’ve ever had a back and forth with on Twitter, so it makes for a fun fight.”

If Vera won’t sign on the dotted line, Wood is keen on meeting another knockout artist, former champion Cody Garbrandt, on the London marquee.

“If he doesn’t want to fight, me versus Cody – I’d love to have that fight. That excites me. He’s obviously ranked a lot higher than me at the moment, but then, he’s on a three-loss streak and I’m on a three-fight win streak. To me, for the UFC, it’s win/win. If he beats me, cool he’s back in the win column. If he doesn’t beat me, as far as I’m concerned, the UFC has a new title contender.”

Nathaniel Wood’s appearance on Eurobash begins 15:00 into the episode.

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