Abu Dhabi, UAE — London, England’s Nathaniel Wood returns to “Fight Island” this weekend, looking for his second win of the pandemic era. It’s his third fight overall in 2020, and this time, he’ll take on fellow 135lb prospect Casey Kenney.
An opponent he called “perfect” for him. Speaking at Tuesday’s UFC 254 media day, Wood told media outlets including Cageside Press that “I’ve seen Casey Kenney fight before. I like the match-up. He comes quite aggressive, and for me, that’s what I like in a fight. I like the guy to come at me, which I’m sure he’s going to do.”
Wood hasn’t had all that much time to prepare for the bout. But the short notice hasn’t bothered him much, he noted. “I’m always training, I’m always fit, so it’s not really been an issue with regards to getting in shape and stuff,” said Wood. “I’m just happy to get one in before Christmas. Especially with the pandemic stuff that’s going on, it’s kind of hit and miss, when you’re going to be able to fight again.”
As an added benefit, the short notice for the fight has left Wood “not having to overthink things. Three weeks, in, out, go home, enjoy Christmas. As opposed to having two, three months to get ready and think about an opponent, etc.”
Wood vs. Kenney is the type of fight that, on paper, feels like it could be explosive. That’s probably why it has landed on the PPV’s main card. “It’s got all the makings to be an exciting fight,” admitted Wood, “but I honestly believe that after the first two minutes, he’s going to be shooting for a takedown on me. I think he’s coming into this fight thinking he’s a striker and that he’s going to be able to strike with me.”
And while Wood admitted that Kenney “tore the guy to pieces in the stand-up” in his last bout (against Heili Alateng), “I’m not that guy. Once he stands with me, I feel like I’m going to be getting the better of him, and he’s going to go to Plan B.”
Wood is hoping that a win over Casey, who at times had broken into the UFC’s bantamweight rankings, will “at least put me in the top 15.” Beyond that, it’s hard for the “The Prospect” to look too far ahead currently.
“It’s very up in the air at the moment, with just what’s going on in the world. Apparently we might be going into another lockdown in England,” observed Wood. “It’s tricky to be able to plan anything, especially if the gym’s closed.”
UFC 254 takes place on “Fight Island” (Yas Island) in Abu Dhabi at the Flash Forum on Saturday, October 24. The main card airs live on PPV following televised and online prelims.