Age: 27 | Height: 167 cm | Reach: 175 cm
UFC record: 4-1 | Pro record: 17-4
Style: Well-rounded finisher
Despite joining the UFC in 2018, Nathaniel Wood already has his sixth bout scheduled at UFC 254. A former titleholder in smaller MMA promotions, Wood is no stranger to being on the top. He is a composed striker who lands a lot on his opponents. He is no simple striker however, as he is more than capable of submitting you on the ground as well as out pointing you to a decision. In the UFC, Wood has showcased that he’s able to win fights inside the distance as well as on the judges’ scorecards. Wood’s UFC momentum was briefly brought to a halt when he fell at the hands of John Dodson in February of 2020. However, Nathaniel has already been back in the cage since, getting his hand raised against fellow UFC bantamweight prospect John Castaneda, landing more than 130 punches over the course of 3 rounds.
Wood has it all; striking, grappling and submission skills. My only critique of him is the fact that his striking defense can be a bit lacking against dangerous strikers, but he’s already shown great improvements in the UFC, and has a bright future ahead of him if he continues to work on his game. Wood has a finish rate of 82%.
Age: 29 | Height: 170 cm | Reach: 173 cm
UFC record: 4-1 | Pro record: 15-2-1
Style: High-volume point fighter
After two impressive appearances on DWCS Kenney was ready for the UFC. In 2019 he started his UFC run with a UD win over veteran and former title challenger Ray Borg. Just a few months later he would yet again overcome a great challenge against Manny Bermudez, where Kenney once again passed with flying colors, getting the nod from all three judges. In February of 2020, Kenney would face defeat for the first time at the hands of the chain-wrestling cardio-freak Merab Dvalishvili, losing a UD to ‘The Machine’. Kenney would bounce right back with another win just 3 months after, scoring a first-round submission win over Louis Smolka in May.
Kenney’s last outing was actually earlier this month, when he fought and beat Heili Alateng on October 4th. Now, he feels he is ready to get back in the cage. With just 20 days gone since his last fight, the question is: has he had enough time to recover physically and get ready for the biggest challenge of his career?
Kenney surrenders one inch in reach but has an inch in height on Wood. He is the older man by 2 years.
UFC 254: Nathaniel Wood vs Casey Kenney Prediction
The UFC matchmakers have done an outstanding job on this one – a great fight this is. But let’s get down to brass tacks. We need to predict a winner. I think Wood is a good type of fighter to beat Kenney. Casey is one of those cardio freaks that just never seems to slow down, but we’ve seen before that is his opponent can hang with him till the final buzzer, he usually ends up behind on the scorecards. Maybe he isn’t used to guys having sufficient cardio to deal with his pace, or maybe it’s something else, but nevertheless this is a tendency that Wood can exploit if he is smart. Wood lands more on average than Kenney and has the ability to mix it up with takedowns and submission attempts. He might not have the chain-wrestling of Merab, but on the feet I feel Wood is the superior fighter.
The little amount of time that Kenney has had to prepare specifically for Wood also worries me a little bit. However, it could also end up being an advantage for him, so I won’t dwell on the effects of that too much for this prediction. Instead, I will focus on the fact that Wood has very fluid striking. Wood’s 80% takedown defense will also do him good in this fight, and I feel he might also have the edge on the ground here. Kenney doesn’t have the power to exploit Wood’s striking defense, so I feel Wood will be able to walk forward without too much concern.
Prediction: Nathaniel Wood via UD.