Nathaniel Wood (aka “The Prospect”), born May 8, 1993, is a former Bantamweight Cage Warriors titleholder and current UFC Bantamweight fighter from London, England, with a record of 17-5.
Wood’s most notable wins to date are over fighters such as John Castañeda, Johnny Eduardo, Andre Ewell, José Alberto Quiñónez, Marko Kovacevic, Josh Reed and Luca Iovine.
Wood’s fighting style is that of a well-balanced mixed martial artist who can find a win in virtually any area and angle that a fight takes shown by his record of 9 KO/TKO’s and 5 submission victories.
Despite being a bantamweight fighter, Wood possesses incredible one-punch K.O. power. He has displayed this in multiple victories, especially with his vicious left hook that has come to his aid in many a fight.
In addition to this, Wood also holds a strong kicking game which he predominantly demonstrates at the start of a fight, often chopping the legs of his opponents to establish his distance and also limit their movement.
“The Prospect’s” professional career started in 2012, with a 2nd round TKO over James Humphries, and Wood got off to a flying start, going 4-0 in just under 2 years and finishing each fight in the process.
However, in early 2014, Wood suffered his first professional defeat against Ed Arthur in a 3rd round rear naked choke loss. Wood would then go 4-2 in his next 6 fights before hitting his stride mid-2016 as he would put together 2 straight wins earning him a shot at the vacant Cage Warriors Bantamweight Championship.
“The Prospect” would claim the Cage Warriors crown with a 1st round KO of Marko Kovacevic and would go on to defend the title twice, taking his winning streak to 5 and granting himself a call up to the UFC after his viral KO of Luca Iovine and 1-round war against Josh Reed.
In his UFC debut, Wood took on veteran Johnny Eduardo and came back from 1st round adversity to get a 2nd round D’Arce choke and a $50,000 Performance of the Night Bonus.
Wood would continue his dominance, winning his next 2 fights against Andre Ewell and José Alberto Quiñónez, finishing both with rear naked chokes taking his win streak to 8 straight.
However, Wood would meet his first defeat within the UFC against former title challenger, the experienced John Dodson in a 3rd round TKO loss. Despite this setback, Wood bounced back against John Castañeda on Fight Island amid the global pandemic.
Wood would take another fight at Fight Island on just 16 days’ notice against Casey Kenney, who had fought just 20 days prior at a catchweight (140lb) bout. It was a closely contested fight with opinions and the scoring of it differing throughout from person to person, but Wood unfortunately came out on the losing side.
Wood hasn’t fought since his loss the Kenney in October 2020, however, he is set to make his return against Jonathan Martinez on September 4, 2021, at UFC Fight Night 191 looking determined to get back to his winning ways.
Now that you have a snapshot into “The Prospect’s” career background, let’s pan for the gold in Nathaniel Wood’s Top 5 MMA Finishes! (in descending order)
5. Vs. Abdullah Saleh – UCMMA 38 (Feb. 1, 2014)
In his fourth professional bout, Wood took on Abdullah Saleh and would get the quickest stoppage of his career to date with a 22-second KO in front of a hometown in London, England.
In round 1, immediately the two combatants start trading chopping leg kicks, and 15 seconds in, both fighters unleash with fury, but it’s a trailing right hand from Wood that gets the biggest reaction as it momentarily wobbles Saleh.
After smelling blood in the water, Wood capitalizes, throwing a follow-up right hand and left hook that causes Saleh to fly back to the cage. Then Wood pounces on him with a swift combination leaving Saleh incapacitated and out on his feet 22 seconds into the contest.
This explosive 22-second KO took Wood to a perfect 4-0, giving credence to his nickname, “The Prospect”.
4. Vs. Marko Kovacevic – Cage Warriors 84 (June 2, 2017)
At Cage Warriors 84, Wood headlined the bill against Marko Kovacevic in a fight for the vacant Bantamweight title after Toni Tauru vacated the title to make his move to One Championship.
Wood looked to put his name among many MMA greats to have held claim to a Cage Warriors title such as Conor McGregor, Michael Bisping, Gegard Mousasi, Antônio Silva and Dan Hardy.
In round 1, Kovacevic comes steaming forward, pushing Wood up to the fence and looks to take the fight to the floor and open up his dangerous submissions.
At 1:10 in, Kovacevic gets Wood to the floor, but Wood is stubborn and quickly gets back to his feet to prevent himself from any damage.
At 3:00 in, and after a failed clinch attempt from Kovacevic, Wood shrugs him aside and lands an uppercut and a trailing right hand that knocks Kovacevic to the mat.
Kovacevic tries to recover, stumbling back to his feet; however straight left and rights look to stop Kovacevic on his feet as he tumbles, crashing back into the cage. The fight is called off with Kovacevic unable to defend himself at 3:41 of the 1st round.
A 1st round stoppage claimed Cage Warriors GOLD! As Wood etched his name next to MMA royalty becoming one step closer to getting his UFC call up.
3. Vs. Johnny Eduardo – UFC FN 131 (June 1, 2018)
After his two viral fights and coming off a 50-second, one-punch KO win, Wood had done enough to earn his call to the UFC, and he came out to impress in his debut against Johnny Eduardo.
A common theme within Wood’s style is seen here as he comes out establishing his distance by throwing debilitating leg kicks to stifle the movement of his opponent.
At 2:25 of round 1, Wood starts to find homes for his fists as he connects with a straight right and left hook that gets Eduardo’s attention.
However, just under 4 minutes in, Wood is caught by an Eduardo swift right hook that sends him retreating backward. Wood is rocked against the cage as Eduardo unleashes vicious hooks but randomly steps away before again proceeding to continuously fire straight rights that hurt Wood, causing a nose bleed.
However, once again, as Wood looks to be on the brink of defeat, Eduardo steps off the gas and gives Wood time to recover and majorly lets Wood ‘off the hook’ in a bizarre decision.
After a tough 1st round of his UFC career, Wood was in need of a much better 2nd round performance.
At 1:30 into round 2, Eduardo shoots in for a double leg takedown, but Wood quickly sprawls and prevents it, wrapping up a Darce grip and whilst doing so, traps Eduardo’s leg as he begins to squeeze getting the tap at 2:18 of round 2.
What a UFC debut with a 2nd round submission after escaping from the jaws of defeat in the 1st round! To make his first contest here just that much sweeter, Wood also got a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus.
2. Vs. Josh Reed – Cage Warriors 86 (Sept. 17, 2017)
In a 1-round war labelled, “The most incredible round in Cage Warriors history”, “The Prospect” would overcome early adversity to defend his Bantamweight crown and remain undefeated whilst fighting under the Cage Warriors banner.
In round 1, Wood comes out with heavy leg kicks as he berates Reed’s lead leg, connecting 3 times in under 15 seconds.
Wood continues to injure Reed’s lead leg, but 45 seconds in, Reed lands a huge hook in the clinch that rocks Wood.
This leads to Reed unleashing a torrent of strikes throwing everything bar the kitchen sink at Wood. By a minute in, he has Wood against the cage, firing everything he has, knocking Wood to the ground in the process while continuing to pound away.
However, at 1:35 in, Wood lands a fight-changing left hook that suddenly rocks Reed to his core. Now it’s Wood on the attack as he rains tough knees and thrusting uppercuts, and a final straight left and right which forces referee, Marc Goddard, to call the fight at 2:19 of a thrilling 1st round!
What a way to defend your belt for the first time -Wood came back from the brink of defeat here to produce a spectacular finish- and certainly one of his best to date.
1. Vs. Luca Iovine – Cage Warriors 92 (March 24, 2018)
In his second defence of his Cage Warriors Bantamweight Championship, Wood main-evented Cage Warriors 92, taking on the 15-1 Italian fighter, Luca Iovine.
A good performance here would be the start of a UFC career for “The Prospect”, and he ‘WOOD’ not disappoint, bringing the London crowd to its feet in just under a minute!
In round 1, at 30 seconds in, Wood establishes his cage control taking the centre of the octagon, beginning to fire out a piston of a jab whilst slipping Iovine’s counters, narrowly missing a foreshadowing left hook.
Wood backs off to try and reset, and Iovine tries to press the action whilst Wood holds his ground, blasting out a missing right hand which loads his base for a thunderous left hook as Iovine tries to exit the pocket.
Wood’s rocket of a left hook detonates on impact leaving Iovine completely stunned stiff, as he falls like timber in slow motion, 50 seconds into the contest.
Now a contender for Knockout of the Year, this got Wood’s foot in the door of the UFC, his debut there would follow just 3 months later.