Exclusive: UFC Bantamweight Nathaniel Wood Gives TJ Dillashaw Comeback Prediction

  • English bantamweight reacts to recent title controversy between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling.
  • Rooting for Cory Sandhagen to beat ‘cheater’ TJ Dillashaw.
  • Uncertainty surrounding his own comeback following long injury layoff.

UFC bantamweight prospect Nathaniel Wood has given his thoughts on some of the division’s recent and biggest talking points.

Following his UFC debut in June 2018, Wood has gone on to claim victories over some of the promotion’s best 135lb’ers, including submission wins against Andre Ewell and Jose Alberto Quinonez.

Despite looking like the next fighter to break into the division’s top 10 rankings, recent losses against John Dodson and Casey Kenney has seen the Englishman’s momentum hit a stumbling block.

Nevertheless, despite being 1-2 in his last three fights, Wood is still widely regarded as one of the promotion’s most exciting bantamweights – certainly to come out of Europe anyway.

July 26, 2020; Abu Dhabi, UAE; John Castaneda (blue gloves) kicks Nathaniel Wood (red gloves) in their bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via USA TODAY Sports
July 26, 2020; Abu Dhabi, UAE; John Castaneda (blue gloves) kicks Nathaniel Wood (red gloves) in their bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via USA TODAY Sports

Reacting To Recent Title Controversy

UFC 259 earlier this month saw the bantamweight title change hands following a main-event clash between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling.

Despite being one of the division’s most clinical strikers, it was to be Sterling who left the UFC’s Apex Centre with the strap.

However, the title bout was marred with controversy after former champ Yan unleashed a devastating illegal knee in the fight’s fourth round.

After extensive reviews, referee Mark Smith deeemed Sterling victorious, with Yan losing his title via disqualification.

Reacting to his division’s recent events, Wood has admitted that even as a fellow pro, he was left shocked.

I was shocked with how the fight ended – Yan needs to go back and read the rule book!

Nathaniel Wood speaking to VegasOdds about Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling (UFC 259)
Mar 6, 2021; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Aljamain Sterling punches Petr Yan of Russia in their UFC bantamweight championship fight during the UFC 259 event at UFC APEX on March 06, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Mandatory Credit: Jeff Bottari/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports
Mar 6, 2021; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Aljamain Sterling punches Petr Yan of Russia in their UFC bantamweight championship fight during the UFC 259 event at UFC APEX on March 06, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Bottari/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

All Eyes on TJ Dillashaw’s Long-Awaited Comeback

Despite being in the mix to be considered the UFC’s greatest ever bantamweight, American fighter TJ Dillashaw has seen his legacy severely tainted following a failed drugs test.

After reclaiming the bantamweight title against arch-rival Cody Garbrandt in 2017, Dillashaw went onto successfully defend it against the same opponent less than 12-months later.

However, in an attempt to reach legendary status and become just the fifth fighter in UFC history to hold two belts simultaneously, Dillashaw opted to drop to flyweight to take-on the dominant Henry Cejudo.

Despite successfully making the gruelling 125lb weight-cut, Dillashaw failed to recapture some of his best form and eventually went on to suffer a TKO loss.

If the defeat wasn’t crushing enough, fans would be left shell-shocked after it was confirmed the bantamweight champ had tested positive for EPO – An extremely effective body enhancing drug.

Following the failed test, Dillashaw’s 135lb title was quickly stripped away and the American handed a hefty two-year suspension for good measure.

However, with the suspension now over, fans are preparing to welcome the controversial but clearly talented all-rounder back to the big time.

Dillashaw’s first fight back since his bout against Cejudo will see him take-on the surging Cory Sandhagen in May, in a match-up that is believed to decide who is the rightful number-one contender.

Looking ahead to his division’s former champ making a return, England’s Wood has issued a no-nonsense statement and has revealed how he’d love to see Sandhagen claim the win.

TJ I think will be the more skilled athlete but I really hope Cory gets the win, purely because TJ was caught cheating – In this game that is not acceptable!

Nathaniel Wood speaking to VegasOdds about Dillashaw vs Sandhagen
August 4, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; TJ Dillashaw celebrates his championship victory against Cody Garbrandt during UFC 227 at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
August 4, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; TJ Dillashaw celebrates his championship victory against Cody Garbrandt during UFC 227 at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Uncertainty Surrounding His Own Future Due to Ongoing Injury

Although Wood has enjoyed an excellent rise to fighting stardom, the Englishman remains in limbo when it comes to his own future.

Having failed to compete since his last loss against Kenny, Wood has revealed how an ongoing injury, sustained during that bout last year, is preventing him from returning to action.

After confirming to us that he is still being treated for ligament damage in his hand, although the young bantamweight is itching to get back inside the octagon, Wood has no idea when his next UFC showing will be.

Nothing for me, unfortunately. I’m still dealing with an injury from the last fight. But I can’t wait to get back in there and show everyone I deserve to be in that top 10.

Nathaniel Wood speaking to VegasOdds
Leah is a 28-year-old professional British sports journalist who specialises in reporting on top-flight European football and MMA. Leah works for a top-tier UK sports media company which is where she can be found providing exclusive content and interviews with some of sport's biggest names. In her spare time Leah enjoys playing poker and listening to American hip-hop!

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