We have a very exciting main card opener this weekend at UFC 253, as 29-year-old talents ‘Mean’ Hakeem Dawodu and Zubaira Tukhugov face off in a featherweight bout at 10pm ET.
This is an incredible match up for so many reasons. Each man only has a handful of fights in the UFC, Dawodu has five, and Tukhugov has six, though Tukhugov has been in the UFC four years longer.
The Russian prospect was flagged for a potential tainted supplement toward the end of 2016, and was suspended two years considering. He was 3-1 in the UFC at this time with his only defeat coming to Renato Moicano via split decision.
Though he was suspended for two years, he spent nearly three-and-a-half years away from competing. In his first three fights with the promotion, Tukhugov became the first to defeat the 22-0 Douglas Silva de Andrade (UD), as well as defeating Ernest Chavez (TKO) and Phillipe Nover (SD).
Since returning in September of last year, he’s had a draw with the ultra talented Lerone Murphy, and he TKO’d knockout artist Kevin Aguilar in round one. This was a very impressive performance from Tukhugov, he’s really evolved beautifully in his time approaching his peak.
Dawodu is one of the brightest up-and-coming prospects we have in the sport of mixed martial arts today. He got his start in kickboxing, where he had an incredibly successful career.
‘Mean’ Hakeem went 42-5 as an amateur kickboxer before turning professional. This included four titles, as well as a second place, and a third place in championship tournaments he’s competed in.
Once turning professional, Dawodu went 9-0 with seven knockouts, and won the World Muay Thai Council Intercontinental Welterweight Championship in the process. He then turned his focus to mixed martial arts, and has also done very well in this sport.
Dawodu had his first eight fights under the WSOF banner, compiling a 7-0-1 record with the promotion. His draw came against the fellow undefeated Marat Magomedov, who he TKO’d in round two of their immediate rematch.
His last fight before coming to the UFC was against UFC veteran Steven Siler, who’s a very dangerous, well rounded opponent with over 40 fights to Dawodu’s seven. He ended up defeating Siler via unanimous decision, winning all three rounds of the fight.
Though Dawodu lost his UFC debut via submission (guillotine choke) early in round one, he’s rebounded with four straight victories since, and is looking to make it five this Saturday.
He defeated the likes of Austin Arnett (UD), Kyle Bochniak (SD), Yoshiniro Horie (TKO), and Julio Arce (SD) in those four fights.
The big question coming into this fight is whether or not Dawodu can keep it on the feet. If he can, he should pick up the W, but if not, it’s going to be a rough night for him.
Tukhugov is very talented on the ground, and he’s got good striking of his own. He can mix it up very well, something Dawodu is going to have to watch out for.
Tukhugov also has a Master of Sport in both Combat Sambo and Hand-to-Hand-Combat, mix that with Dawodu’s kickboxing, and this is going to be a very entertaining fight.
Dawodu comes into this fight with a record of 11-1-1, while Tukhugov comes in with a record of 19-4-1. Their frames are also nearly identical, with both standing 5’8”, Dawodu has just a half inch reach advantage.
The winner of this fight will certainly be knocking on the door to the top 15 in the near future.
Who do you see winning this epic featherweight clash?
I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I saw, and the fight that got me hooked on the sport. Since then, the sport has grown so rapidly, and my goal is to enlighten everyone on what’s going on in the sport today.