Nathaniel Wood had seen a fight with Vince Morales slip through his fingers at the 11th hour back in March, with Morales falling ill and unable to compete. That extended a lengthy layoff for the British bantamweight, who would finally return at UFC London on Saturday — making his featherweight debut in the process.
Having not fought since 2020, “The Prospect” was paired up with the always game Charles Rosa.
Wood and Rosa exchanged kicks early once the action got underway, which led to Wood pressing forward with a combination. At least one of those punches landed, and after another attack by Wood, Rosa pursued a takedown, to no avail.
Back out in the open, Rosa threw a couple of calf kicks, while England’s Wood did the same, taking Rosa off his feet. Rosa came back up, and after a high five, the pair began trading. The crowd, definitely into the action, was cheering on every exchange, but a low blow slowed things down, with Wood given time to recover.
Back underway, Wood showed some stance switches, and easily fought off a takedown attempt, nearly connecting with a big elbow. Wood then tried to jump over Wood, expecting a level change or sweep, but wound up planted on his back. Rosa locked in a guillotine, but Wood gutted it out to the buzzer.
What an end to round 1 🤯
— UFC (@ufc) July 23, 2022
Round two saw Wood find considerable success on the feet early. He continued to attack the legs as well; when Rosa went to the mat, Wood declined to follow. Rosa fired a spinning back kick high, but it was slow and labored. By the midway mark, the American went to his back again, with Wood once again declining to follow. Wood’s jab was money, his takedown defense on point. And his leg kicks were incredibly effective.
Early in the third, Rosa shot for an ankle, only to be stuck on his knees for a moment. With his takedowns stymied, there was no way for Rosa to get the fight into his wheelhouse, given his leg was hampered. Rosa then uncorked a spinning back elbow, and later found a home for his left hand. Another left hand would get through shortly after. But Rosa was tiring, and another leg kick felled him life a tree. Again, Wood settled to letting Rosa back to his feet, rather then putting himself in danger on the ground.
Another spinning back elbow, or spinning back fist, followed. Whichever it was, it missed, and as it did, Rosa fell, leg giving out on him. He got back up, and wound up pursuing a takedown, grabbing on to Wood’s leg. But Wood pulled free, and forced the compromised Rosa to his feet. Rosa pointed to the floor, urging Wood to stand and trade with him. Rosa would get Wood down briefly at the end, trying for a guillotine out of sheer desperation with no hope of finishing it.
After an extended layoff of nearly two years, Wood comes away with a lopsided unanimous decision, fighting a smart fight in his featherweight debut.
Official Result: Nathaniel Wood def. Charles Rosa by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)