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UFC Fight Night 204: Nathaniel Wood vs. Vince Morales prediction, betting odds, preview

UFC Fight Night 204: Nathaniel Wood vs. Vince Morales prediction, betting odds, preview

UFC Fight Night 204: Nathaniel Wood vs. Vince Morales prediction, betting odds, preview 3

Nathaniel Wood, holding a professional record of 17-5, will fight on his home soil of the United Kingdom against the 11-5, Vince Morales.

Wood is seeking to get back into the win column after suffering a close decision loss to the formerly ranked bantamweight, Casey Kenney. Securing a win in this matchup will likely open up an opportunity to fight a ranked opponent in his next bout and begin to climb the bantamweight division. Meanwhile, Morales is seeking to continue his 2-0 2021 campaign by earning a victory as an underdog once more.

Odds

Wood is a sizable -320 favorite against Morales.

  • Wood: -320
  • Morales: +250

Breakdown

Wood is an exciting fighter with well-rounded attributes. Perhaps the best attribute which goes understated is his ability to combine athletic movement with effective, fluid kicks out of the orthodox stance. When Wood fights against southpaws, he frequents inside leg kicks and up kicks while mixing in a quick switch kick to land to the outside of the opponent’s leg. When facing orthodox fighters, the fluid movement he has on the feet mixed with sound boxing enables him to land effective outside calf strikes which lessens the movement of his opponent, thus furthering the athletic disparity between them and himself.

To combat the kicking game of Wood, his opponent often seeks to back up him against the cage, and once there, heavy boxing exchanges frequently ensue, as Wood is more than willing to stay in the pocket to throw heavy-hook combinations. This willingness surfaces a potential concern as Wood has a tendency to dip down low and drop his guard when throwing a wild combination. Dipping down without a defensive mindset enables his opponent the potential to land a strike which could put him away. Although the concern is justified, the combination of him having a strong wrestling track record to fall back on with the underlying track record of Wood having success in the heavy exchanges greatly combats this potential issue.

Morales employs a heavy boxing style in the octagon. This style allows him to have nice, tight boxing combinations after pressuring his opponent. The consequence of this style is twofold: first, the style inherently demands a heavy lead leg which opens up the opportunity to have his calf kicked quite easily and with damage; and second, the wider stance opens up the opportunity for his opponent to secure a single-leg takedown attempt. Given Morales’ calf has had a historical track record of getting kicked coupled with him giving up takedowns somewhat easily against good wrestlers, the result is him being a somewhat one-dimensional fighter needing his opponent to stand and exchange in a predominately boxing-heavy fight for a chance to win. Although this conclusion is quite negative, Morales has had success in baiting his opponent into a boxing-style fight, and when done, he does have success.

Prediction

This fight is a tremendous matchup testing Nathaniel Wood’s fight intelligence. Meaning, if Wood stays patient and smart, he will elect to utilize his movement and frequent kicks to keep Morales at bay, and if Morales gets overzealous in rushing in to cut distance, Wood will choose to shoot a takedown contrary to staying in the pocket and exchange a flurry of boxing-combinations. If Wood elects to go toe-to-toe in the pocket with Morales, the matchup becomes far more even and affords the challenger of Morales a path to victory. I believe Wood will choose the smarter path to victory, and if done, he will look sensational in this bout; and even if Wood showcases poor fight IQ, thus enabling Morales a chance of victory, I still favor Wood due to him having the faster and more powerful hands contrary to the crisper, more technical boxing of Morales. So, regardless of how the fight plays out, I anticipate Wood securing the victory, and if he is smart, it will be a dominating performance.

Bet: Wood by decision

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