UFC bantamweight Nathaniel Wood has done his best to stay fit during the coronavirus pandemic, but he doesn’t have the luxury of training at a gym like some of his counterparts.
Instead, “The Prospect” has been the beneficiary of donations of workout equipment so his sessions at home can be more productive. The 26-year-old London native currently lives with his parents and his fiance.
“At the moment I’ve got a nice little gym set up in the garden,” Wood told Metro.co.uk. “I’ve had a lot of friends that have donated me some of their gym equipment, such as punch bags and weight equipment. I’m still able to get my two sessions a day which is nice. I’ve been going out for my road runs and I’ve got my push bike out, even though that’s on its last legs.
“Other than that, not a lot. I’ve been trying to read a lot more and I’ve been trying to teach myself Spanish. I can’t stand not doing something. If I watch TV for an hour I’m already feeling guilty. I need to do something. For me, I’m trying to learn a few things in lockdown so when it’s over I’ve added a few tricks to my game.”
While Wood isn’t able to work alongside sparring partners, he is fortunate to have his father around during this period of social distancing.
‘My dad is my striking coach as well so he’s been helping me on the bag, watching me shadow punching. He’s been critiquing me and trying to add to my game,” Wood said. “We’re in a bad situation but I’m blessed to have great people around me.”
Wood was able to fight on one of the last cards before the COVID-19 pandemic truly took hold. The result, however, wasn’t ideal, as Wood suffered a third-round technical knockout loss to former flyweight title challenger John Dodson at UFC Fight Night 167. That ended an eight-fight winning streak for the Cage Warriors veteran, who had kicked off his promotional tenure with submission triumphs over Johnny Eduardo, Andre Ewell and Jose Alberto Quinonez.
However, Wood has gained valuable perspective in life that prevents him from dwelling on his first career UFC defeat.
“It was [playing on my mind]…but if I’m honest, the last five years I’ve suffered with bad anxiety and depression. I’ve got OCD too. Since living with that, when I had the loss, it’s nothing,” Wood said. “I’ve still got my health, my family and I got paid good money to fight even though I lost. I look at what’s going on in the world, there are people who are not just dealing with mental health issues but diseases and it would be selfish of me to mope around about a loss when fighting is something I enjoy doing.
“I have to get back on the horse and go again. It wasn’t my night that night, but I’ve come back healthy. I feel I’m blessed. As much as I didn’t want to lose the fight, but I know it’s not the end of the world.”
The UFC is currently in the process of planning an event schedule around the pandemic. That includes the development of a Fight Island, which is expected to give international athletes who can’t get into the United States a venue to compete.
Wood is willing to step up if asked, but he would prefer that any potential opponent be in a training situation similar to his own. These days, some fighters have better arrangements than others.
“I’m fit at the moment and I’ve got decent training sessions I’ve been doing. The only thing I take into consideration is if my opponent isn’t in the same boat as me,” he said. “If the UFC gives me an opponent and that person has had a proper training camp with sparring partners and coaches, I would feel a bit off. I’ve just been hitting the bag in my garden. I want it to be fair. If the guy the UFC have offered me has also been in the same situation, then lets go. I’m up for that.
“But I would have to be very smart with it because coming off a loss, I can’t afford to go in there and fight someone who has been training like an absolute beast with sparring partners for three months. Then there’s me who has been in the garden on the bag with my dad every other day. I will be sensible with it. I would like to think whoever the UFC offers me has been in the same situation as me.”