UFC 294’s Muhammad Naimov: “Nathaniel, This is Going to Be Fun”

Muhammad Naimov and Jamie Mullarkey, UFC Vegas 74
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 03: (L-R) Muhammad Naimov of Tajikistan punches Jamie Mullarkey of Australia in a lightweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 03, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

After starching Jamie Mullarkey on short notice, up a weight class in his UFC debut, big things had to be next for Tajikistan’s Muhammad Naimov. Not only did the UFC find him a fight on the biggest card of the year, UFC 294 from Abu Dhabi, but it’s also against a highly touted featherweight in Englands Nathaniel Wood.

Naimov knows the hype that comes with Wood. While he enjoys that his opponent brings some eyes into the matchup, he’s ready to prove all the English fans that they’ve got this one wrong.

“English people – I just want to prove that they’re thinking wrong,” he said. “[Wood is] definitely not going to [get] past me in this fight. He’s definitely not going to do that.”

All of that comes from a place of respect though. Naimov respects all the opponents who step into the cage with him. Having seen plenty of Wood in the UFC, he knows he is difficult – but with the training Naimov has endured, he is ready for everything.

“I have respect – this is not trash talk, this is real talk,” he shared. “What I’m doing, how I’m training, how stong I am [mentally] – that all makes me believe he can not [get] past me.”

If you ask him for a prediction, he plays it close to the chest. However, he did have a little insight into how the fight might look. Not only that, he had a bit of a message for his opponent this weekend.

“I want to keep it secret, but it’s going to be a finish for sure,” Naimov said with a laugh. “Nathaniel, I’m not sure if you’re going to watch this interview or no – but I promise it’s going to be war, bro. It’s going to be fun.”

You can catch their fight as part of the ESPN+ prelims of UFC 294. Those fights starts at 10am this Saturday.