Hakeem Dawodu picked up a big split decision win over Zubaira Tukhugov to open up the UFC 253 pay-per-view (PPV).
Kicking off the UFC 253 main card on Saturday was Canada’s Hakeem Dawodu, going up against Russian Zubaira Tukhugov.
The featherweight bout represented a chance for Dawodu to perhaps break into the rankings with a strong performance. Tukhugov, meanwhile, was looking to win two in a row for the first time in years. He also had something to make up for, after blowing weight by a full four pounds on Friday. The bout opened up with a few jumping front kick to the body attempts from Dawodu that didn’t land. Tukhugov connected with a nice counter lead hook on Dawodu as he stepped inside the pocket. Dawodu responded with a leg kick and Tukhugov later landed a nice right hand.
A nice uppercut to the body landed for Dawodu and Tukhugov responded with another right hand down the pipe. A nice jab landed from Tukhugov to end the first round. The second round kicked off with the jumping front kick to the body landing for Dawodu. Dawodu with another lead uppercut to the body and followed up with a leg kick. Tukhugov began to come forward with some shots but ended up eating a jab. Tukhugov responded with a hard couple of hooks, but Dawodu returned fire with a leg kick. Tukhugov landed the right hand off a Dawodu leg kick.
Another nice body shot connected for Dawodu inside the pocket. Both men exchanged some big shots in the middle of the Octagon, and Tukhugov failed on a takedown attempt. A big overhand missed from Tukhugov, but he responded with a successful takedown attempt against the cage. The round came to an end with Tukhugov on Dawodu’s back.
The final round began with Dawodu getting off some leg kicks. A nice head kick connected for Dawodu, and Tukhugov shot in on a takedown, but Dawodu defended very nicely. Dawodu landed a very nice left hook, and Tukhugov again shot in on the takedown, but Dawodu escaped the clinch up beautifully. Dawodu calls for Tukhugov to stand and bang with him in the center of the Octagon, but Tukhugov continues to back up and play it smart. A nice counter right hand landed for Dawodu, who begans to talk trash loudly. Another jumping front kick to the body from Dawodu which just lands, and the fight is over as time expires.
Official Result: Hakeem Dawodu def. Zubaira Tukhugov via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)