London bantamweight Nathaniel Wood knows a rush of blood to the head can be the difference between victory and defeat and is banking on that experience being a key factor in his bout against Casey Kenney at UFC 254.
Wood suffered the first loss of his UFC career in February, when he went for the finish after suffering a cut against John Dodson only to be countered by the American veteran, who secured the stoppage win.
The 27-year-old rebounded by outpointing John Castaneda and hopes to continue the momentum in a 140lb catchweight contest on the preliminary card of Khabib Nurmagomedov-Justin Gaethje at the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi.
Standing in his way is an opponent who last stepped into the octagon only three weeks ago, and Wood believes Kenney is still on a high after defeating Heili Alateng, which the Briton is looking to exploit.
The former Cage Warriors champion told the PA news agency: “You learn from your mistakes. Kenney hasn’t been caught, he’s lost two decisions, and I’ll be the guy to teach him that lesson.
“He’s going to come in aggressive and very over-confident from his last fight. He’s on the winner’s high, he’s buzzing.
“I think he thinks he’s going to come in and do the same thing as what he did to his last opponent. But he’s going to be in for a surprise because he’s definitely not going to be doing that to me.
Wood developed a reputation for being heavy-handed in Cage Warriors and although all his stoppage wins in the UFC so far have come via submission, he has his sights firmly set on a stoppage victory this weekend.
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Wood, who has accepted this bout on three weeks’ notice, added: “I’m very comfortable on the floor but because I prefer to strike, people think that’s what I’m better at.
“But it’s nice to be taken down and then end up winning via submission as well.
“Casey Kenney is going to come forward and that’s going to double the power up. You can expect a knockout come Saturday night.
“If I can get a win in good fashion, maybe pick up a nice bonus before Christmas, that would be nice.”
:: Watch UFC 254 prelims live on BT Sport 2 from 5pm this Saturday, with the main card exclusively live on BT Sport Box Office from 7pm for £19.95.