Headlining the pay-per-view event is a middleweight title fight between two undefeated killers in Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa, just the second of the promotions history.
Opening up the main card tonight was a 145 lb showcase between two incredibly talented featherweight prospects in Hakeem Dawodu and Zubaira Tukhugov, both of whom were looking to get into the top 15 rankings.
Dawodu came into the fight with an 11-1-1 record, going 4-1 in the UFC and not having lost since his UFC debut, while Tukhugov came in with a 19-4-1 record and has gone 4-1-1 inside the octagon thus far.
Tukhugov was out of competition for over three years up until a year ago due to suspensions, where he’s gone 1-1 with two very good performances since.
This was bound to be a great fight between a pair of 29-year-old talents, they both have such a wealth of potential.
Dawodu went 42-5 in amateur kickboxing and 9-0 as a professional kickboxer, winning championships in each. Tukhugov is a Master of Sport in both Combat Sambo and Hand-to-Hand-Combat, a very conflicting match up of styles.
Most of round one showed a feeling out process, as was expected between these two. Tukhugov landed the first significant strike of the fight, a beautiful check left hook about 90 seconds in.
Nothing significant happened throughout the round, but Dawodu landed some nice leg kicks, while Tukhogov landed some nice punches throughout.
Round two was much of the same, though the pace started picking up for both parties. Dawodu started to open up with his strikes, and kept up with his leg kicks, and Tukhugov was holding his own with his punches. Tukhugov did however end up securing a takedown with one minute left in the round.
Tukhugov kept Dawodu on the bottom with his wrists tied up for the majority of the last minute of round two. Dawodu was able to escape to bottom turtle position before the bell sounded though.
Dawodu took the center of the cage as soon as round three started and picked up where he left off on the feet before being taken down in round two.
Tukhugov tried for two double leg takedowns in a row, both of which Dawodu was able to dig his underhooks deep enough to shake off. Not long after, Tukhugov tried a high-crotch single leg, and was much closer to securing it, but was also denied on that attempt.
The rest of the round was spent with Dawodu out-striking and out-pacing Tukhugov, even walking him down in the last minute with his hands down. Ultimately, it was the fight most of us expected, a back-and-forth battle between two promising featherweights.
Official Result: Hakeem Dawodu def. Zubaira Tukhugov via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)