UFC Fight Island 3: Nathaniel Wood vs. John Castaneda, full breakdown & gambling analysis

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John Castaneda (+265) vs. Nathaniel Wood (-330). Odds courtesy of FanDuel.

Weight Class: Bantamweight (135lbs)

Where: Yas Island, UAE

When: Saturday July, 25, 5PM Eastern Time

The first fight of the UFC’s fourth and final event at Yas Island will include a last minute opponent switch for Nathaniel Wood. Initially slated to face Umar Nurmagomedov, the Englishman will now face UFC newcomer John Castaneda. Castaneda – a former Combate Americas champion – will be making his UFC debut on less than two weeks notice.

Castaneda – now 28 – has amassed a career record of (16-4) as he heads into his promotional debut. He most recently secured a third round arm triangle choke over Marcelo Rojo with Combate Estrellas last April. Castaneda was on a two fight skid prior to the victory, but before that, he had won eleven straight. This includes a 2017 Contender’s Series victory over Cheyden Leialoha.

As for Nathaniel Wood, “The Prospect” will be looking to rebound following his first UFC loss. Wood’s last appearance – a bantamweight bout against John Dodson in February- ended in a knockout defeat. The former Cage Warriors champion fought a very competitive fight against Dodson, who was ranked 13th at the time. I thought that Wood secured round one and was on his way to securing round 2 before some suspect officiating led to a point deduction.

Wood landed a second low leg kick and was deducted a point even though a hard warning had not been given. He then appeared eager to salvage the round after the deduction, landing a couple big shots. The Londoner got overeager, however, as Dodson landed several combinations. The speed advantage proved too much for Wood in the end, who was dropped by a Dodson combination in the third and subsequently finished via ground strikes.

Prior to the Dodson fight, which many argue was a bit too much, too soon, Nathaniel Wood had amassed a UFC record of 3-0. All three of his wins came via submission, with the most notable being a debut victory over UFC veteran Johnny Eduardo. Wood had won eight straight before losing to Dodson, a run that includes one of the great MMA comebacks at Cage Warriors 86.

To keep it simple, I definitely like Nathaniel Wood’s chances for a solid comeback win here. Castaneda’s recent record is deceiving and he is a tough fighter to finish, but Nathaniel Wood is a bit better all around.

When patient, Wood’s boxing is top notch. He was beating Dodson in exchanges, which is tough to do, and was out-pointing “The Magician” before getting overeager. If Wood takes his time, which I’m sure he will be following a loss, he should be able to pick Castaneda apart. Castaneda is certainly a tough fighter to put away, but he is also somewhat hittable.

Nathaniel Wood will also have the advantage on the mat. Nobody has been able to stop him in the UFC thus far, as Wood always has a fight finishing mentality. He relentlessly fishes for submissions on the ground while racking up top control. Dodson – a decorated wrestler – could only manage to clinch the London native to a standstill. It was Wood who landed the fight’s only take down.

I simply don’t see a path to victory for Castaneda. If Wood fought a competitive fight against a proven UFC commodity in John Dodson, he should have no problem with Castaneda. Outside fill-ins have not performed well in the UFC’s post COVID outbreak events. We recently cashed Giga Chikadze and Takashi Sato for wins in similar circumstances. It’s not to take anything away from fighters like Gustavo Lopez, Jason Witt or John Castaneda. They’re just simply taking these fights on such short notice while having to deal with the pandemic and the overall jitters of a UFC debut. They all deserve mad props, but the deck is stacked against them.

Gambling wise, we’ll have to see what happens with props later in the week. I definitely think that Wood will get the finish, though I could definitely see Castaneda dogging his way to a decision. The other thing working against a Nathaniel Wood method of victory prop is the unpredictability of Wood’s game. Though he has secured all three of his UFC wins via submission, he still describes himself as a knockout artist.

I definitely think that Nathaniel Wood is due for his first KO at the UFC level, so a double chance, points or KO could be in order. With that said, I think that (-330) for a proven commodity in Wood is a steal right now. That line has potential to swell closer to (-500) come Saturday, so there is plenty of parlay value in the line.

For these reasons, I’ll stick with the moneyline for now, but may update on Thursday.

Prediction and play: Nathaniel Wood moneyline (-330)

UPDATE:

The line has indeed swelled close to -500, making Wood moneyline worthless in turn. The decision props are just as confusing for the same reasons stated above. Nathaniel Wood looks to finish the fight, he’s primarily done it via submission, but a KO is certainly in the cards. As such, no method of victory prop is a solid favorite.

As for John Castaneda, he spoke with Mike Heck of MMAFighting and revealed that he has been in camp this entire time, waiting for the right moment to take a short notice fight. He feels as though his delayed UFC debut is a plus in his column and said that he has loved training during the lockdown.

Castaneda is certainly no slouch and if he’s been in camp this whole time, he could certainly give Wood a competitive fight. For these reasons I think that Castaneda will be able to drag out a decision and will be placing a bet on that prop.

If you’d like to play it safe, double chance options are still profitable less than three hours out. Points or submission has swelled to (-210), which isn’t quite worth it in my opinion. Points or TKO sits at (+105), however, which has value. That said, Nathaniel Wood by points (+220) is the superior value.

Updated prediction: Nathaniel Wood by points (+220)

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