Nathaniel Wood: Marc Goddard Saved My Life

UFC featherweight Nathaniel Wood has recalled the crucial part that renowned MMA referee Marc Goddard played in shaping his successful career in the sport.

There aren’t many tougher jobs in mixed martial arts than that of officiating, with referees tasked with finding a balance between protecting the fighters throwing down and allowing enough of an opportunity for them to recover and mount comebacks.

But despite that fine line, criticism of the third person inside the cage is often prevalent, with the latest example surrounding the dethroning of a long-time champion.

At UFC 281, Israel Adesanya saw his hopes of recording a sixth successful defense dwindle as a result of Alex Pereira’s left hook. After the fifth-round shot and ensuing onslaught from the Brazilian, Goddard stepped in as Adesanya stood rocked against the fence.

In the aftermath, some fighters and fans took to social media to criticize the stoppage. The British ref later thanked those who defended his decision to put a stop to the fight, a move which Pereira branded as ‘life-saving’.

But attention was recently drawn to an instance of Goddard making the opposite decision, but one that the beneficiary of is forever grateful for.

Wood: ‘My Life Would’ve Completely Changed If Goddard Stepped In’

During a recent video on MMA on Point’s FightFront channel, 29-year-old UFC featherweight prospect Nathaniel Wood sat down to discuss all things MMA with a pacifist. The upload marked a follow-up to a video of the violence-hating individuals reacting to some of the most brutal knockouts the sport has ever seen.

While any type of damage was unfavorable for the pacifist, unnecessary damage following late stoppages was undoubtedly a worry. But during their discussion, Wood recalled the moment Goddard perhaps saved his life by allowing him time to recover.

“There’s been times where you see fights and you’re thinking, ‘Ref, stop this fight!’ And they haven’t stopped it,” Wood said. “In my fight against Josh Reed, he’s smashing me all over the place for the first two minutes. Luckily, the ref, Marc Goddard, could see that I was still defending myself, could see that I was still in the fight, and he didn’t stop it. I then turned it around and won that fight.

‘I”m glad he didn’t stop it, because I then won my fight, which led me to be signed by the UFC and completely changed my life. If he had stepped in, I would still be earning zero money, I wouldn’t have been able to move out, I wouldn’t be able to buy nice things, I wouldn’t be able to be getting married next year; I wouldn’t be able to afford anything,” Wood added. “My whole life would have been completed changed if he had stepped in. So I thank God he didn’t.”

The moment in question came back in 2017, when Wood successfully retained his Cage Warriors bantamweight belt against the challenge of Reed. In one of the best rounds in the promotion’s history, “Crazy Horse” appeared seconds away from winning the gold.

But after being given the chance to survive, Wood mounted a memorable comeback to secure a TKO victory after just over two minutes.

Following one further defense in 2018, “The Prospect” was signed to MMA’s premier promotion, where he’s gone 6-2 since and collected one $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus.

What do you make of Nathaniel Wood’s take on the importance of Marc Goddard’s officiating for his career?

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