Coming out of UFC 253, Canadian featherweight “Mean” Hakeem Dawodu is now on a five-fight win streak. After starting his career in the WSOF, Dawodu (12-1-1) made the jump to the UFC in 2018, and after dropping his debut, has not looked back.
With that sort of momentum behind him, the Calgarian wants his home country to stand up and take notice — not to mention the promotion as well.
“They have to take me seriously. Canada’s got to get behind me,” Dawodu said following his fight Saturday, speaking to Cageside Press. “I’m the leading Canadian right now, I got five straight, I’m winning, I’m from Canada. They’ve got to respect me, they’ve got to start following me, they’ve got to give me a top ten, and it’s time to start really making a staple of my name.”
Dawodu is clearly brimming with confidence, although he admitted that it might have faltered just a little when the scores were being read in Abu Dhabi. A close fight with Zubaira Tukhugov ended in a split decision, and judging being what it is, you never really know.
“At first I was very confident, and then once I heard the split and one of the judges was giving it to him, I was like ‘damn!'” recalled Dawodu. “I started getting nervous. We both know there’s been crazy decisions before. He did get like two takedowns on me, so it’s kind of crazy. I was a little bit worried, because I’ve seen worse.”
The takedowns were one of the few surprises in the fight for the Canadian. The lack of them, to be more specific. “To be honest I kind of wanted him to shoot on me,” explained Dawodu, “because I knew that once he shot on me and I got right back up, he was going to get tired, he was going to gas, and I knew I was going to bring the fight to him.”
One of the other surprises was his opponent backpedaling as much as he did. “I didn’t think he was going to be running the way he was running. I knew he liked to backpedal, but I didn’t think he was going to be full-on running.” Still, however, the fight playing out how it did is something Dawodu takes full responsibility for. “I’ve got to go back to the drawing board and really start on chasing these guys down. Because obviously that seems to be the game plan when people fight me. They start off high, and then they really start doing the running.”
After time away due to COVID, Hakeem Dawodu added that he’s been on the shelf long enough for his liking. So the plan is to fight once more this year. “December 19, I heard they’re having a card, put me on that one.”
Watch the full UFC 253 virtual post-fight press scrum with Hakeem Dawodu above.