COLUMBUS, Ohio – With back-to-back losses, Joanne Wood isn’t out there chirping about title shots.
But at the same time, in the women’s flyweight division, she also knows it might not be a stretch for her to get a win this week to get back on track and be right there in the picture.
Wood (15-7 MMA, 7-7 UFC) takes on Alexa Grasso (13-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) in the UFC on ESPN 33 co-main event at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. It’s the UFC’s return to fights in front of a paying crowd in the state.
With 125-pound champion Valentina Shevchenko still ruling the roost, Wood is far from the point at which she’d give up on the potential for a UFC title shot just given what Shevchenko has done in the division.
“It’s kind of a little bit disheartening when I think about my journey and think about the title because I’ve been so close a couple times, and it’s just not happened for me,” Wood told MMA Junkie at Wednesday’s UFC on ESPN 33 media day. “But I’m someone that never gives up. If it’s going to happen, then I need to do my job on Saturday. I need to win and then keep winning, and then it’ll happen.
“But I have a good case because right now, Valentina’s up there and she’s taken out all the girls that are above me and have fought me. I’ve still got that chance because I’ve not fought her yet. But do my job Saturday – win. As fighters, we have to win to put that case out there.”
Five of Shevchenko’s six title defenses since she won the belt have been against fighters Wood already has been in the cage with. So to say she’s reaching the point of cleaning out the division is a valid argument.
In Wood’s mind, the champ hasn’t been in there with her yet – which means a win over Grasso on Saturday certainly wouldn’t hurt her chances, and a win or perhaps two after that, and who knows.
But for now, Wood has to make sure to win Saturday against Grasso, who is more than a 2-1 favorite. But she said she’s trying to not feel the pressure of back-to-back losses.
“For sure, there’s always pressure – just being a fighter itself. We need to win just to take half our money away,” Wood said. “So yeah, there’s pressure. But I try to not concentrate on that and just go in there and work hard leading up to it, and hopefully it’s a good day in the office. I’m very excited to get back in there. It’s only been a couple months since my last fight. Even though it didn’t go my way, I’m still excited to get back in there and get back in the win column.”