UFC 244’s Hakeem Dawodu: “Don’t Put Me as the First Fight of the Night No More”

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UFC 244’s Hakeem Dawodu feels Canadian MMA deserves more respect than being the first fight of the night.

New York, NY — Despite picking up a win Saturday night at UFC 244, featherweight Hakeem Dawodu (11-1-1) was noticeably upset after his fight with Julio Arce.

Unhappy with his performance, the split decision did not sit well with Canada’s ‘Mean’ Hakeem. “I’m just a little bit upset with myself. I wanted a better outing,” Dawodu told media outlets including Cageside Press following the bout.

“Especially being at the Garden, such a big venue, it was really a fight for me to shine and let the fans know what kind of fighter I am,” he continued. “I just feel a little bit disappointed with the way I performed tonight.”

Nerves were not a factor when it came to his opponent, but outside the cage was another matter. “I did feel a bit nervous. Not really with the fight, just, such a big venue, I heard the President’s here,” Dawodu said. “It’s just crazy, it’s probably the biggest event I’ve been in my whole entire life.”

Next time, Dawodu said, “I won’t look like that.”

Give Canada respect was the message Hakeem Dawodu sent in his post-fight speech, and he elaborated on that backstage Saturday. “I just feel like we’re lacking a few stars right now. I’m trying to lead the wave. I’ve got four straight wins, they have me as the first fight of the night,” he stated. The placement clearly frustrates the Canadian, who was born in and fights out of Calgary, Alberta. “I just feel like the North needs more respect than that. We’re coming up, and I’ve got four straight wins now. Don’t put me as the first fight of the night no more.”

Moving forward, Dawodu will be looking for a top ten opponent. “We’re going to see who would be the best next fighter for me to have,” he said, suggesting a return date “around February, right after Christmas. I want to make my return, I want a top ranked opponent, and I want to show you guys what I’m really made of.”

In his immediate future, however, Dawodu will be focused on family. That includes seeing his Grandmother, plus “going to hang out with my long-lost half brother. He lives here in New York, we’ve never met.”

That’s a situation that Dawodu described as “dope.”

“We’ve never met, but we’re very similar. I got to bring him out to Madison Square Garden, such a big event,” said Dawodu. “And for him to see his older brother doing things like that, especially because he heard the way I grew up, and what I was doing earlier, for him to see me in this position right now makes me really happy.”

It’s not that his brother necessarily needs the inspiration, mind you. “He’s like an engineer right now in school, so he’s a little bit smarter than me,” admitted Dawodu. “He’s going good for himself but I’m at least a high level athlete right now and I want to show him our family’s doing good.”

Watch the full UFC 244 post-fight press scrum with Hakeem Dawodu above!

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