Canada-based Hakeem Dawodu has emerged as the latest Nigerian sensation in the realm of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he enacted another victory last weekend in a stunning show against Zubaira Tukhugov, megasportsarena.com reports.
With middleweight Israel Adesanya and heavyweight Usman Kamaru currently world champions in their respective categories of UFC, Nigerian fight fans now have Dawodu added to their list of heroes, after the member of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s camp dispatched Tukhugov in style.
Dawodu made the best of his featherweight at UFC 253, as he returned to The Octagon for the first time in over a year, after seemingly getting snub by match makers on account of money issues, but he romped back to secure an impressive win over Tukhugov.
Accompanied by his teammate and reigning UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov into The Octagon, Tukhugov headed into the fight with a win TKO win over Kevin Aguilar from Fight Night 168 and the Russian was aiming at yet another win on the night, but Dawodu did just enough to ensure this one did not go his rival’s way.
Dawodu, who said afterwards that he not impressed with Tukhugov’s performance on the night and claimed that his opponent kept running away, showcased a diverse striking approach, with good conditioning and solid takedown defense to carry the day by split decision in the kick-off fight for the pay-per-view main card on Saturday night.
After three rounds, two of the judges scored the fight 30-27 and 29-28 for Dawodu while the third official gave it to Tukhogov with 29-28, but independent observers were unanimous that the Nigerian fighter got the job done with better points scoring and takedown defense.
Especially in the third round, Dawodu (fondly called Mean by his fans) prevented Tukhugov from taking the fight to the mat, which might have been the crucial factor in tilting the final score his way, as the bout went back-and-forth through the minutes it lasted; few minutes before the more popular Adesanya retained his belt with a second round knock-out of Brazil’s Paulo Costa.
Dawodu’s achievement drew the attention of Nigeria’s sports minister, Sunday Akinlabi Dare, who hailed the fast-rising mixed martial arts (MMA) grappler for his fifth consecutive win in The Octagon, and stated in a post on social media: “I also congratulate and celebrate Hakeem Dawodu. Another Nigerian who won his fight this morning before Isreal (Adesanya).”
Dawodu, who apologized for the cussing during the fight and declared that he is now aiming for a higher-ranked opponent, added: “I thought it was going to be a good fight but as everybody can see, he was running. I promise the next fight, give me somebody that ain’t gonna run.”