Nathan Fletcher: “My aim is to lift Cage Warriors gold, sign a UFC contract and then lift UFC gold.”
By Dan McConnell
Nathan Fletcher is one of Cage Warriors hottest prospects right now. At the age of 23, the Liverpudlian is currently on a six-fight win streak, and in touching distance of a bantamweight world title shot.
I recently had a chat with Nathan regarding fighting under the Cage Warriors banner, training at Next Generation with the likes of Molly McCann, Paddy Pimblett and Chris Fishgold.
Also, we spoke about him suffering from food poisoning during a fight camp, the Netflix show ‘The Last Dance’ and his desire to reach the UFC.
I wanted to know about Nathan’s background in the sport, who has been with Cage Warriors from his amateur days. Every fighter has a story how they started, from being inspired watching their very first UFC event to training for fitness or self-defence.
Nathan replied “I started training MMA when I was about 14 at a gym in Southport called the Dog Pit. I’d never done any combat sports growing up really, but I was always fascinated by MMA. I also didn’t like the idea of not being able to defend myself if I needed too.
“One of my mates at school was already training so I went down to the gym with him. I remember him tapping me about 15 times in 5 minutes and that is when I realised, I knew even less than I thought I did about the sport. I have been addicted to it ever since that day!”
The unbeaten bantamweight trains at Next Generation in Liverpool with former champions and UFC contenders Molly McCann, Chris Fishgold, Paddy Pimblett, and the newly crowned Cage Warriors middleweight champion Matt Bonner.
I wanted to know how the gym has been so successful in recent years, and what is different about ‘Next Gen’ compared to other MMA gyms around the country.
Nathan said “Firstly I’d say our coaching team is one of the best in the world! Paul Rimmer and Ellis Hampson are genuinely two of the best MMA coaches on the planet. Because of this the level of our mat is constantly improving year after year and we all bring each other on as teammates.
“Other than this I think our work ethic is on another level. There aren’t many fighters out there with the mindset and mental toughness the fighters at Next Generation possess, and I think this is a reason we’re so successful at the moment.”
Next Generation MMA currently has four Cage Warriors champions who have developed through their ranks. This currently ties SGB Ireland’s tally of owning four Cage Warriors world titles.
Every fighter goes through the trials and tribulations of fight camp throughout their careers. However, not many deal with another added obstacle that Nathan suffered back in March this year.
Ahead of his fight with Michele Martignoni at Cage Warriors 122, the 23-year-old had to deal with food poisoning the morning of fight day.
“Waking up on fight day and feeling ill was not ideal, months of the fight camp had gone so smooth, and I’d prepared so well for my toughest test at that time in my career. I pride myself on my mentality and therefore I was able to overcome this situation.”
Simply unthinkable for the normal human, Nathan continued “Luckily a couple of days before the fight I watched the popular Netflix series The Last Dance” (featuring the Chicago Bulls and their successful dominance in the 90s).
“There was an episode in the series where Michael Jordan had to play an important playoff game whilst suffering from food poisoning. He got the job done so I thought I had too as well as a professional athlete. Good timing to watch the series that fight week!”
Nathan Fletcher defeated all odds and impressively finished his opponent Martignoni via third round submission. Getting the win meant a lot to him, especially after having to overcome the worst fight day possible.
The Next Generation star secured the biggest win of his career in June this year, defeating the experienced former title challenger Brian Bouland by first round rear naked choke. This was his third successive submission victory.
“Yeah, I was made up with that performance to be honest I don’t think it could have gone any better. I went in there against a man with far more experience than me and I didn’t get touched. I was back in the gym Monday training without a mark on me. The only other person to beat Brian in that fashion was IIia Topuria.”
Topuria submitted Bouland in 2018 in the very first round, making the jump to the UFC at 10-0 and has won three fights in a row. Nathan Fletcher is going in that same trajectory with six finishes in six wins for him as a professional fighter.
Next Gen have laid out the path for their fighters to make it into the UFC with Molly McCann, Paddy Pimblett and Chris Fishgold all currently signed to the promotion.
Playing matchmaker, I asked does he have a dream matchup, who is next for him and also his favourite MMA fight he’s watched.
“I don’t really have a dream match up to be honest all I’m focused on is getting to the top of the sport. My aim is to lift Cage Warriors gold, sign a UFC contract and then lift UFC gold down the line. Whoever I come across along the way is just in my way and I’m going to run over them all.
“In terms of my favourite fight it’s certainly a tough one, some of my favourites would be that Usman vs Covington fight in 2019, the Jon Jones vs Gustafsson classic, Robbie Lawler vs Rory MacDonald at UFC 189. Also, any of UFC lightweight Brad Riddell’s fights” (who trains under City Kickboxing gym with Israel Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski).
With the world of MMA and rules ever-changing in today’s modern era. I asked Nathan is there anything he would change in the sport today and why.
“The only thing I can think of is the 12-6 elbow rule. I think pretty much everyone is in agreement and certainly needs looked at again. Other than that, the sport is boss the way it is and I wouldn’t change a thing”
At just 23, Nathan Fletcher looks set to continue his growth in the sport and finally get a chance to fight for the Cage Warriors word title, currently held by the unbeaten Jack Cartwright.
Follow Nathan Fletcher on Twitter @nathanfletcher_