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Nathaniel Wood scores impressive submission finish on UFC debut

Former Cage Warriors bantamweight champion overcomes a tough opening round to submit Brazilian veteran at UFC Utica

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Dolly Clew / Cage Warriors

British bantamweight star Nathaniel ‘The Prospect’ Wood completed a dream debut in the UFC with a second-round submission of Brazilian veteran Johnny Eduardo at UFC Fight Night 131 in Utica, New York.

Wood, who earned his spot in the UFC after an impressive run of form in the UK-based Cage Warriors Fighting Championship, had to battle through some early adversity after a tough opening round that saw him tagged with a number of solid punches from Eduardo, who was competing in his 40th career bout.

But after a pep talk from British UFC legend Brad ‘One Punch’ Pickett between rounds, Wood came out more confident in the second round.

And after Eduardo attempted an ill-advised takedown, the Londoner saw his opportunity and locked up a D’Arce choke to force the Brazilian to tap out at the 2:18 mark in the second round.

Wood, a protege of retired former WEC and UFC star Pickett, has risen up through the ranks on the domestic scene, and captured the Cage Warriors bantamweight world title last June with a first-round finish of Swiss contender Marko Kovacevic.

Since that win, Wood’s career has gone from strength to strength. He stopped heavy-handed Welsh prospect Josh Reed in a one-round classic last September, then followed up with a stunning one-punch knockout of Italian challenger Luca Iovine at Cage Warriors 92 in March.

His five-fight, five-finish, win streak convinced the UFC bosses to pull the trigger and hand Wood a UFC contract.

And now, thanks to another impressive finish on his UFC debut, the man known as ‘The Prospect’ becomes yet another face to follow as the UFC’s next generation of British stars continues to impress on the big stage.

Five to follow: British UFC stars to watch in 2018 and beyond

Arnold Allen, 24, featherweight

The Suffolk featherweight is unbeaten in the UFC, and claimed a thrilling come-from-behind submission win to stun Denmark’s Mads Burnell at UFC Liverpool. Athletically-gifted, Allen is improving with every performance and continues to find a way to win, even when his back is against the wall.

Tom Breese, 26, middleweight

Birmingham’s Breese was considered a hot prospect at welterweight, but now he’s moved up to middleweight he looks an even more dangerous proposition. The unassuming Brummie has lost just once (by split-decision) in 12 career bouts and looked superb in his first-round demolition of four-time Australian judo Olympian Dan Kelly at UFC Liverpool.

Marc Diakiese, 25, lightweight

Arguably the most spectacular prospect on the list, Diakiese exploded into the UFC with a hat-trick of wins, but has found the going tougher in recent outings. The confident lightweight from Doncaster has switched his training to the respected American Top Team camp in Florida and will look to showcase his growing skillset at UFC Hamburg on July 22.

Darren Till, 25, welterweight

The fighting pride of Liverpool, Till defeated No.1-ranked welterweight Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson on a raucous night at UFC Liverpool to rise to No.2 in the UFC’s official welterweight rankings. Undefeated in 18 career fights, Till looks a superstar in the making, but some critics still need convincing after the 25-year-old failed to make weight ahead of the Thompson fight.

Nathaniel Wood, 24, bantamweight

The former Cage Warriors bantamweight world champion jumped into the octagon and claimed an impressive submission win over Johnny Eduardo on his octagon debut at UFC Utica.

Freelance sports writer and MMA reporter with 19 years’ experience in the UK national media. UFC/MMA Reporter: BBC Three. News Editor: ONE Championship.

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