The UFC today confirmed that former BAMMA champion Tom ‘The Fire Kid’ Duquesnoy and ex Cage Warriors champion Nathaniel ‘The Prospect’ Wood will clash at the end of the year in a Bantamweight showdown when the UFC pitches up it’s tent for UFC 232, which takes place in Las Vegas on Dec 29th. Speaking to ‘The Prospect’ he is emphatic in backing up a conversation that started between us several months ago. “I believe I’ll get the KO,” he tells me, pausing he continues, “definitely within two rounds.”
Wood is coming off an incredible finish when he stopped his first test in the UFC, Johnny Eduardo, via Brabo choke in the closing minutes of the second round. After securing a performance of the night bonus he’s been wise with his restraint by not blowing the entire lot as he explains, “I haven’t done a lot with it if I’m honest. I took my girlfriend on holiday and put the rest away, I want to save up for a mortgage, you know what these London prices are like.”
After that short break Wood was keen to get back into the octagon and after hounding Sean Shelby for a significant amount of time he has landed, quite arguably, the biggest Bantamweight matchup in Europe ever seen between two top athletes. It’s a match up that could have happened years back and Nathaniel is clearly relishing the opportunity it presents. “I saw a lot of people have already put up on Twitter that this is BAMMA vs Cage Warriors which is quite cool, although I have fought for both.
A lot of people have commented for years that it would be a good fight so it’ll be good to showcase our skills to see who the best Bantamweight in Europe is. I believe I am number one.”
Whilst Wood is clear that he can see a win, one which takes place in dominant fashion he is also mindful of what threats to his game Duquesnoy brings to the cage as he explains, “He always comes out aggressive from the get go, but what Ive noticed from fights I’ve seen is that he deteriorates a bit as the fight goes on. He likes to be a bully. He hopes the guys he faces gets on that back foot, but I’m too stubborn to let him bully me around that cage so it’ll be interesting to see when I stand straight in front of him.
He’s similar to me in that he’s predominantly a striker, I’m sure he has a decent grappling game the same as I have. To me it looks like he’ll come to strike, he’ll lose in the striking department though as I believe I am the better striker.”
Having followed and spoken to Wood from his early amateur days his methodology of visualising the finish has been a staple part of his preparation. Nothing has changed since joining the professional ranks and it would appear that he has played the scenario of how he gets the finish in his head many times, “I believe I will smash Duquesnoy up. It’s not gonna go any other way,” he tells me. His confidence brims as he explains, “Don’t get me wrong I’m ready to go the full distance. The coaches I’m with now I honestly don’t think I could have a better team. I have the best MMA coach, the best boxing coach and BJJ. I feel I’m covered in all areas I’m confident in all areas.”
One thing that has also remained constant from his amateur days is Wood’s humble approach to fighting, he’s not cocky or brash but quietly confident in his ability. It’s this approach which always has him thinking how he can meet the next challenge. Not necessarily looking past opponents but confidently mapping out his trajectory. Against this backdrop he is already keen to assess what his next challenge and location for that will be, ” Brett Johns in London would be great if I’m not injured,” he said, ” I don’t want easy fights, I don’t like easy fights. On Twitter someone posted that Brett Johns is the best in Europe, so it was irrelevant whether I beat Tom or not. If that’s the case and that’s what people are thinking, why don’t me and Brett Johns get it on.”
I’ve long called for his moniker ‘The Prospect’ to be updated and it would appear that given his trajectory, given his quiet confidence that producing incredible fights and finishes it won’t be long until Nathaniel Wood will be on the hunt for a new name in addition to new challenges.