One of the under-the-radar stories of 2021 in MMA has to be the rise of Dominique Wooding. The now Cage Warriors bantamweight champion had a year to remember and an incredible run of knockouts.
The Englishman ended 2020 on a sour note as he only had one MMA fight, lost, and was cut from Bellator. It seemed like things were just not working out for Dominique Wooding.
“November 2020 was the time I moved over to Great Britain Top Team,” Wooding told ClutchPoints. “December of 2020 I was still down but obviously I wasn’t out. I knew I’d soon be seeing better days because obviously, the training I was getting [and the training] I’m getting [now] is the training that I needed, that I was missing for the past couple years, year and a half. So December of 2020 was a time of me plotting and putting goals for 2021 and saying what I was going to do in 2021. What I set out to do is what I’ve done this year, and it’s been a very, very successful year.”
Working with a new MMA gym was a key component of Dominique Wooding’s huge 2021. He joined up with some of his old teammates and coaches and added some new coaches as well.
Dominique Wooding would sign with one of the biggest MMA promotions in Europe, Cage Warriors. His first card found him on the prelims where he won by knockout in the first round back in June.
His second MMA fight with Cage Warriors was three months later in a main event for the bantamweight title against Nathan Fletcher. He would win with an impressive head kick followed by punches to become the new bantamweight champion.
The comeback was in full force. He became a champion in MMA and people were paying attention. The change wasn’t just physically with his new team, the difference was also in his mentality.
“Just there’s a shift in mentality,” Wooding said. “Being with a new fight team. Well, not a ‘new’ fight team, just going back with some of my old teammates and coaches, adding new coaches, and just having some conversations with myself and my close ones. And me being able to make that shift and turn that corner for me to actualize my greatness.”
His release from Bellator MMA forced him to take a step back and make some changes. It wasn’t just one thing that led to his shift in mentality, it was an accumulation of things.
Dominique Wooding’s final fight of 2021 came against Carlos Abreu on December 11. It was his first title defense and he made it look easy against a tough opponent. He won with an overhand right followed by a flying knee to finish the fight in just 38 seconds.
“It’s an accumulation but I’d say up to pinpoint one specific time for me to make these changes was my last Bellator fight. I had been on the two-fight skid. And obviously getting cut from Bellator. So I was very down when that happened when they released me. I just knew I needed to make changes. But I just didn’t make them as of yet, up until that point. So obviously, the changes were made and as you can see, I’m steaming through everyone that I’ve faced this year and with that being done, I’ve got myself a world title and defended a world title. So I guess happy days to me.”
Dominique Wooding is now hoping the UFC will sign him to their bantamweight division. He has been in contact with the big MMA promotion and is hoping to get good news heading into 2022.