UFC Rio Rancho: Nathaniel Wood looks to be the first man to finish John Dodson Saturday

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“They say a happy fighter is a dangerous fighter so, you know, I’d hate to be Dodson right now.”

Nathaniel Wood

Nathaniel “The Prospect” Wood (16-3 MMA, 3-0 UFC) has been out of action since March of last year due to a broken arm injury.

He is set to return this Saturday, Feb. 15 at UFC Rio Rancho on ESPN+ 25 in a bantamweight fight against two-time flyweight title challenger, John Dodson (20-11 MMA, 9-6 UFC).

Ahead of the fight, Wood caught up with MMA Junkie to discuss where he’s at mentally and physically and how he’s handled the layoff over the past eleven months.

“In a way it was a bit of a blessing that I got injured and had this time off because before, I always loved what I do, I loved the sport, but you know when it starts to become very repetitive,” said Wood. “Having an injury and putting me out, and being told ‘you can’t train,’ that’s given me that spark again. It’s given me that hunger again that I maybe was lacking a little bit for my last few fights.”

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Wood came over to the UFC from Cage Warriors back in June of 2018, where he got off to a hot start, finishing his first three opponents by submission. He say’s he wants to get the finish in this fight to really make a statement that he belongs at the top of the UFC bantamweight division.

When he was asked where a win over Dodson would put him in the division, this is what he had to say.

“For me, if I can finish him, to be the only man that finishes him, who he’s gone against, that would prove a lot. You know, if I can finish John Dodson inside the distance and be the only man to do that, then where does that put me? He’s fought everyone there is,” said Wood. “For me I think that proves that I’m supposed to be in there with anyone in the world.”

Wood is currently on an eight fight winstreak that dates back to July of 2016 and he has finished all eight of those fights. If he can get his fourth consecutive UFC finish and ninth win/finish in a row, Wood may find himself in a position where he could then challenge one of the top contenders in the division in a number one contender bout to decide who fights for the title next.

The champion of the bantamweight division, Henry Cejudo (15-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) is rumored to fight former featherweight champ, Jose Aldo (28-6 MMA, 10-5 UFC) at UFC 250, which would leave enough time for Wood to fight one more time before the champion would be ready to take on his next challenger.

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