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July 28, 2014


[NEF Press Release]

 Lewiston, Maine (July 25, 2014) – Ray "All Business" Wood (4-0) was, arguably, the hottest star on the Northeast regional fight scene a little over a year ago.  Having just claimed the New England Fights Mixed Martial Arts (NEF MMA) Maine State Featherweight Title, Wood seemed to be on the fast track to the big leagues of the sport.  Then, a devastating knee injury cut that momentum short.  After surgery and an extensive rehab period, Wood is scheduled to make his long-awaited return to the cage at NEF MMA's next event, "NEF XIV," on September 6 in Lewiston, Maine.  Recently, Wood as a featured guest on the NEF Podcast hosted by NEF MMA matchmaker and co-owner Matt Peterson.

Growing up in Bucksport, Maine, Wood found his early calling competing in the sport of wrestling.  While he was, admittedly, not a standout in the sport, Wood had a passion for competition, a passion that would not be satisfied at the collegiate level.  His second calling would not come until he joined Young's MMA in Bangor, Maine.

"I finished up in high school wrestling," said Wood during his NEF Podcast interview.  "I always had that urge to compete.  I loved the competitiveness behind it.  That wasn't around anymore, I wasn't really interested in collegiate wrestling or anything of that nature.  I was looking around, started training at Team Irish.  I wasn't really learning a whole lot there, and then I found Chris Young (head coach of Young's MMA).  Chris Young was working out of his basement at the time... When I first started training there, I had no interest in cage fighting or getting in the cage or anything like that.  I just wanted to stay in shape.

After a stellar amateur career, Wood went on a three-fight win-streak to start his professional career.  Then, he earned his chance to become the first-ever Maine State Featherweight Champion before his hometown crowd at "NEF Nations Collide: Canadian Invasion" last July in Bangor.  In the main event that night, Wood defeated Lenny Wheeler (6-3) to capture the title.

"That's a dream come true in itself," recalled Wood of the victory.  "To win a title, not only in my home state, a professional title to be exact, it's an unbelievable feeling.  It's tough to put into words.  There's so much emotion going through you...  Home crowd, to have almost 3,000 people screaming your name, in your corner, it's unbelievable."

Shortly after that win, Wood began to experience pain in his knee.  He continued training for several weeks thereafter, playing through the pain and preparing for his next title defense.  When he finally got checked by a doctor, the news was worse than expected.

"It was devastating at first, to find out I had a torn ACL," Wood continued.  "After the July fight, I went back to training.  My knee was sore.  I wasn't really thinking there was anything wrong with it... It wasn't until October that I decided to check it out and find out I needed surgery.  I had a completely torn ACL.  I was training for months on a completely torn ACL.  That to me was devastating.  To have such a high, to climb that ladder, and to know that I had to climb back down and work my way up again, it's ridiculous."

Most fighters would take a tune-up fight after returning from such a serious injury.  Wood made it clear that he and his teammates at Young's MMA have no interest in tune-up or easy fights.  Hence his upcoming title defense on September 6 against tough Brazilian fighter Gabriel Baino (6-1) from Team Link.

"Going out there, padding your record, fighting nobodies, once you make it to the next level you're just going to look silly," said Wood.  "I certainly had an opportunity to take a tune-up fight, if that's what you want to call it, but, you know, I'm ambitious.  I want to make it to the next level... I've never felt better.  I've never been more prepared for anything.  I'm ready for this no matter what... This is certainly going to be a test for me.  I've never been tested... I'm expecting a five-round war... just a five-round, all-out war.  I'm gonna have to throw everything I have at this kid to put him away... I have some tricks up my sleeve.  There's gonna be a new Ray 'All Business' Wood out there come September 6."

Later during the NEF Podcast interview, Wood discussed an incident earlier in the year between he and Jon Lemke (3-2).  The two exchanged words on Facebook earlier this year in a very public argument when defending their teammates, Ryan Sanders (6-5) and Marcus "The Irish Hand Grenade" Davis (22-11), shortly before Sanders and Davis met in the much-anticipated main event of "NEF XII."  Wood also touched on the possibility of a future fight with Lemke now that Lemke had moved down in weight to the 145-pound featherweight division.

"It was just basically defending our own," Wood said of the Facebook argument with Lemke.  "I felt that some of the comments he had said were out of line.  I felt like he didn't have a right to say the things he said after being a 'no-show' or whatever, but I understand he had some issues at the time... I respect the man.  I respect anyone who steps in the cage and does what they do... Jon's a good guy.  I have no problem with anyone over at Irish... As far as fighting Jon, that would be a great fight.  If he made it down to 145, that'd be an awesome fight."

There is no doubt that Ray Wood is motivated and looking to take his career to the next level.  Several months ago, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White made an unannounced visit to Young's MMA to visit Wood after hearing so much about Wood's abilities.  While the injury was a setback, Wood is still looking to push forward and make it to the highest level in the sport.

"My ultimate goal is to make it to the UFC," said Wood.  "That's my goal.  Right now, I'd like to stay as active as I can, but more importantly is staying healthy... But my ultimate goal is to make it to the next level.  Whether it's Bellator or the UFC, whatever, I just have ambitions and want to make it to the next level."