UFC 254 at Fight Island Odds & Pick Prediction: Nathaniel Wood Undervalued Against Casey Kenney (Saturday, Oct. 24)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: Nathaniel Wood (left) of England punches his opponent inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island.
- Nathaniel Wood and Casey Kenney will meet in the octagon for a catchweight bout at 140 pounds on UFC 254's prelim card.
- In his fight preview, Reed Wallach explains why the value is on Wood at plus money in Saturday's scrap at Fight Island.
Nathaniel Wood vs. Casey Kenney Odds
|Wood odds||+134 [BET NOW]|
|Kenney odds||-167 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||2.5 (-233/+175) [BET NOW]|
|Venue||Yas Island, Abu Dhabi|
|Time||Saturday, 1:30 p.m. ET|
On Saturday’s prelim card, we have a catchweight bout that is sure to be up for Fight of the Night consideration. Casey Kenney, who is fighting for the second time this month on Fight Island, is set to take on Nathaniel Wood at 140 pounds.
Both men are exciting prospects, deserving of more attention from the UFC and the winner is sure to have a number attached to their name come next week. The two have eerily similar paths to this point and this one is sure to be a hotly contested match.
Let’s break down the odds in the Wood vs. Kenney matchup and see where the betting value lies.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||10:54||13:18|
|Weight (pounds)||140 lbs.||140 lbs.|
|Date of birth||5/8/93||3/20/91|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||5.52||4.25|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||3.30||3.27|
|Take Down Avg||1.65||1.13|
Despite being the dog in this matchup, Wood has the edge in reach (1-inch advantage), Significant Strikes differential (+2.22 to +0.98), Strike Accuracy (+6 percentage points) Takedown Accuracy (+14 pct points) and Takedown Defense (+30 pct points).
Wood’s 1.1 Submission Average ranks fifth among active bantamweight fighters, per UFC Stats data, and his three submission wins are tied for fifth among active 135-pounders. Kenney has fought once at a 140-pound catchweight, but both are still in essence bantamweights.
Nathaniel Wood vs. Casey Kenney Betting Pick
Kenney is fresh off an Oct. 3 decision victory over Heili Alateng in the Yas Island octagon. While it may seem unusual for a fighter to have such a quick turnaround after a full 15-minute fight, the scrap was so one-sided that one judge sent in a 30-25 scorecard.
Wood, aptly nicknamed “The Prospect,” enters this one fresh off a summer victory over UFC debut Jon Castaneda, which was also a clear unanimous decision.
Kenney won his prior fight as well in May over UFC vet Ray Smolka by submission and is set as a -190 favorite, which is considerable chalk considering the two match up very well against one another.
Digging into this one, I see value on the underdog and think that Wood is being offered at a discount considering there are paths to victory for him in a match that will likely go to the judge’s scorecard.
Both men are immensely talented but equally matched. Wood is a more aggressive striker, averaging more than one Significant Strike per minute compared to his opponent and has nine knockouts in his pro career. To counter, Kenney has incredible durability, having never been finished in his MMA career.
Both are adept at grappling and controlling fights on the ground. Wood has some highlight submissions to his name in his young UFC career. Kenney has recorded five submissions in his 15 wins. Again, both men are very capable all over.
Each fighter shoots for takedowns often, but Wood has showed some serious skill at stunting takedowns, posting an 83% takedown defense per UFC Stats. Considering Wood seems to have heavier hands, Kenney may be the one who tries to level change first, although Wood may end up leading that dance with his ability to shoot down takedown attempts.
My real lean in this handicap is the location. Fighting out of Tucson, Arizona, Kenney told Michael DeSantis of MMASucka.com during a fight week interview that he traveled back to the U.S. following his Alateng fight:
Kenney had the option to stay on Fight Island after his unanimous decision over Alateng but opted to return home for a 10-day training camp. Had he stayed, it would’ve been another 20 days on the island.
“The safe zone they have us on is good for fight week, but to stay there for almost 30 days would be a little much for me,” Kenney said.
Now, he is back in Abu Dhabi just a few weeks later. There’s a good chance that fatigue factors in with him jumping time zones against the much fresher man in Wood, especially with this fight likely going the distance.
I think that both fighters have bright futures, although I do think Wood is a live dog here. The margin is very thin and I think that this price is too high not to play the dog with a similar profile as his opponent.
I would play “The Prospect” down to +130 to pull the upset in a prelim bout that should be on the main card from a talent perspective.
The Pick: Nathaniel Wood ML (+155)