Nathanial Wood got back in the win column Saturday at UFC Fight Island 3. Not that he’d been gone for long.
Wood (17-4) had suffered the first loss of his UFC tenure earlier this year. Yet it had come in a fight with John Dodson, a fighter who twice challenged for gold in the octagon. Just hitting his prime, it’s understandable to see Wood falter in such a pairing.
The English fighter was right back to his winning ways on Saturday, however. Three rounds against John Castaneda saw to that. End result, a unanimous decision win for “The Prospect.”
Getting back in the win column, “it was everything,” Wood told Cageside Press following the bout. “In the UFC, it’s stacked with talent and the roster is forever changing. So you can’t afford too many losses,” he observed. “If you do then you’re probably going to be out of a job. It was nice to obviously get in there, get the win and get back to winning ways. I had a lot of pressure on that one coming off a loss. I hope the crowd, well not the crowd, I hope the fans enjoyed the fight this evening.”
Of course, there was no live crowd. The event was the final stop on Fight Island, held inside a 10+ kilometer safety zone. Essential staff, media, and fighters only.
Castaneda was a late replacement, and Wood didn’t have much time to ready himself for the Combate Americas alum. “In a way I didn’t prepare for him at all,” Wood admitted. “Obviously, I was preparing for my original opponent, Umar Nurmogomedov and things changed. He had to pull out, obviously John stepped in, I think on three weeks notice. So there was nothing really I could do. My fight camp was already starting to taper down.”
Nurmagomedov was forced out of the bout after the death of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s father, Abdulmanap, following a battle with COVID-19.
Opponent changes are nothing new to Wood, however. “I always just stay ready for pull outs, because it’s the fight game, it happens all the time. I just make sure that I bring the best fighter I possibly can. Tonight, obviously I did enough to get the win.”
Already seeing the highs and lows that come with the top of the sport, Wood credits his coaches, including his father, for keeping him grounded.
“If I’m ever kind of going in the wrong direction slightly, my coaches pull me straight back in,” he said. Not that it’s really been an issue: Wood noted he’s tried to stay humble, and isn’t looking too far off into the future. Near future, mind you, is another matter.
“To fight in the UFC is amazing, whoever the matchmakers want me to go up against next, I’d love to be back in here,” Wood added. “Come back to Fight Island.”