Nathaniel Wood thankful for UFC London homecoming – and not stressed about Jose Quinonez

LONDON – After two fights in the UFC with standout performances Stateside, it’s safe to say Nathaniel Wood has earned his Saturday homecoming.

Wood (15-3 MMA, 2-0 UFC) takes on Jose Quinonez (7-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) in a bantamweight bout smack-dab in the middle of the UFC on ESPN+ 5 main card at the venerable O2 in London – a venue he came up dreaming about fighting in.

It may not be the main-event status that was part of his ultimate dream, but it’s a start.

“This is home,” Wood today told MMA Junkie at a media day in London ahead of the card. “This feels (like) where I’m supposed to be. When I first started this sport, this was kind of my main goal – to be on an O2 card, and I’m finally here.

“My first UFC event was at The O2 when Brad Pickett fought Neil Seery (at UFC Fight Night 37 in 2014). I remember looking down thinking, ‘This is the main aim for me. If I can headline one of those cards, that’s going to be a dream come true.’ I’m not headlining it, but I’m on the main card and honestly, I’m buzzing for it.”

UFC on ESPN+ 5 takes place Saturday at The O2 in London. The card streams on ESPN+.

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Wood came to the UFC as a Cage Warriors bantamweight champion in his native England. He made a quick first impression with a $50,000 bonus-winning D’Arce choke submission of Johnny Eduardo at UFC Fight Night 131 in Ithaca, N.Y. in June 2018. His follow-up at UFC 232 was no less impressive. He stopped Andrew Ewell with a rear-naked choke in Las Vegas.

Now he gets the home fight he’s been pining for against an opponent who has four straight wins in the UFC. Quinonez lost his promotional debut in the “Ultimate Fighter: Latin America” Season 1 final, but has been cruising since then.

But his recent accolades aren’t anything Wood seems to be worried about.

“If I’m honest, I haven’t watched too much of him,” he said. “He’s very talented, just like everyone is in the UFC. I honestly don’t believe he’s got anything for me. I don’t believe he can beat me in any areas unless I make a mistake. And I don’t mean that in a cocky way – I’m talking through confidence. I know what happens in this sport, and I believe I beat him in any area.

“I just need to make sure on Saturday I turn up with my ‘A’ game, don’t make any mistakes, and get that win in front of my home crowd.”

For more from Wood, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC on ESPN+ 5, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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