Hakeem Dawodu outpointed Julio Arce in the opening fight of the loaded UFC 244 prelim card.
The highly anticipated UFC 244 kicked off Saturday evening from Madison Square Garden in New York City with the promotional brass booking exciting strikers Julio Arce and Hakeem Dawodu in the curtain-jerker.
Arce, who earned a contract with the UFC during the first season of the Dana White Contender Series, stepped into the Octagon for the fifth time in his career. He last fought in this past May, when he knocked out Julian Erosa via a head kick.
After a disappointing UFC debut back in March 2018, which saw Dawodu get quickly submitted by Danny Henry, the Canadian bounced back with three straight victories, putting him on the brink of a top 15 ranking.
Here is how the action went down:
Arce came out in the southpaw stance while Dawodu stood orthodox. The Canadian opened the action with an inside kick that buckled Arce’s left leg. The American showed he was in pain but Dawodu didn’t capitalize on it. The DWCS alum was able to grab the clinch and they both battled for the position with neither being very effective before they broke free.
Back in the center, Arce opened up with two hard body kicks but got blasted with two hard low kicks from his counterpart. They both landed some heavy blows. The Tiger Schulmann’s MMA product was starting to find his range but had no answer for the leg kicks of the former WSOF star as the round ended.
Cageside Press scored the round 10-9 Dawodu.
The action really picked up in the second frame when Dawodu went back to the leg kicks and Arce responded with pocket boxing. They clinched, but once again, neither did much damage when they broke.
They both threw some fisticuffs in the middle of the Octagon but the Canadian was the more effective fighter until Arce was able to take him down with a bodylock trip. When Dawodu attempted to scramble, Arce took his back and attempted a rear-naked choke. The Canadian was able to spin out of it and quickly got back to his feet. With Arce lying on his back, Dawodu attacked with kicks. When Arce jumped to his feet, they both opened up with shots.
Arce wins the round due to the takedown.
Cageside Press scored the round 10-9 Arce.
The third round started with Dawodu attacking with leg kicks again. He clinched and attempted to get Arce to the canvas which is what his corner instructed him to do. He couldn’t get the New Yorker down and they moved back to the center. Both fighters landed shots but Dawodu showed more power. The Canadian grabbed the plum clinch and pressed Arce against the cage once again. Inside the clinch, Dawodu worked the body with knees while Arce countered with small punches. They moved back to the center and Dawodu gets back to kicking the body. Arce is able to slip a punch and initiated the clinch himself but couldn’t find his offense.
Back in the center, the action picked up with a minute left. Arce hit Dawodu with a clean 1-2 combination. He followed it with a takedown attempt but couldn’t get his adversary down. Both guys buckled down and threw hard as the round and fight came to an end.
Very close round.
Cagesided Press scored the round 10-9 Dawodu (29-28 Dawodu).
Hakeem Dawodu def. Julio Arce by Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
The victory was the fourth in a row for Dawodu, while Arce has now lost two out of his last three scraps.