UFC London: Hakeem Dawodu sees debut as first step to featherweight domination

SINGLE USE ONLY - Hakeem Dawodu
(Calgary Solar)

Maybe there’s something within the water at SBG Eire as a result of on the eve of his UFC debut, Hakeem Dawodu sounds very comparable to the fitness center’s most infamous consultant.

“Over the subsequent six-to-eight months, I plan on making a very huge identify and to begin making that title run,” stated the 26-yr-previous Canadian, talking with Sporting Information earlier this week from London. He’s set to face Danny Henry in his first Octagon look on Saturday. “I’m going to make certain I do every little thing correct and I’m going to get the world’s eyes on me.

“I plan on taking up this division and being the face of one hundred forty five,” he added, echoing the identical type of lofty plans Conor McGregor espoused earlier than his maiden voyage into the UFC cage almost 5 years in the past.

McGregor would flip his grandiose goals right into a actuality, profitable his first six fights within the group whereas stalking Jose Aldo earlier than felling the Brazilian legend in thirteen seconds to declare the featherweight title at UFC 194.

After spending the final a number of months coaching underneath the watchful eye of John Kavanagh and alongside the standard crop of expertise that congregates within the group’s headquarters, Dawodu is prepared to do the identical.

“To start with, John Kavanagh is an actual good man and he’s obtained loads of expertise,” he stated, explaining his choice to depart his hometown of Calgary and relocate to Dublin so as to put together for this weekend’s conflict with Henry. “With him teaching Conor, he’s been in these huge fights, he’s completed massive fights, so he’s obtained loads of information in that space.

“Second factor, it was excellent to go a health club the place you’re not as well-known. Again in my city, everyone is aware of me so it was type of arduous to discover sparring. Being in Dublin, I received very excessive-degree grapplers, good sparring companions — different UFC fighters, individuals which might be preventing in Bellator — and people who perhaps didn’t respect me as a lot, so once we have been sparring collectively, they actually introduced it.

“It was good to get out of my consolation zone: to attempt to flip my uncomfortable zone into my consolation zone, and I really feel like coaching at SBG was simply one other a part of that for me.”

Whereas his self-confidence is certain to rub some individuals the mistaken method, Dawodu’s monitor report backs up his unwavering perception in himself.

Beginning his fight sports profession in kickboxing, “Imply Hakeem” amassed a forty two-5 document as an newbie earlier than posting a 9-zero mark as a professional. Since including combined martial arts to the equation, he’s gone 7-zero-1 whereas competing solely underneath the World Collection of Preventing banner.

After battling to a draw with Marat Magomedov in December 2015, the 2 ran it again seven months later with Dawodu accumulating a second-spherical stoppage victory. As an encore, he swept the scorecards towards Steven Siler, a veteran fighter with 9 UFC appearances and greater than forty bouts beneath his belt.

Even earlier than he confronted Siler, many anticipated Dawodu would get the decision to the Octagon and as soon as he had handed the requisite “beat a former UFC fighter on the regional circuit” check each rising prospect should clear, most anticipated his commencement to the very best degree within the sport was within the offing.

As an alternative, his debut on Saturday comes 364 days after his win over Siler, which has been nothing however constructive as far as Dawodu is worried.

“To be trustworthy, I don’t really feel like there are various negatives,” he stated of the prolonged layoff. “Lots of people understand with all my struggle expertise collectively, that is going to be 70-plus fights for me. Additionally, I had a number of lingering accidents that simply adopted me each battle.

“So having this day off, I used to be in a position to get with my power and conditioning coach and repair a few of these issues. That is the first time I’ve come right into a coaching camp with no accidents, feeling actual good.

“With so many fights underneath my belt and me nonetheless being younger, I really feel prefer it type of refreshed me and also you’re going to see a brand new ‘Imply Hakeem’ and I’m going to are available there, be dominant and present the folks that this hasn’t affected me in any respect.”

As for what to anticipate when he strides into the Octagon for the first time towards Henry, Dawodu is aware of that securing a victory over the sturdy Scotsman is essential, however he’s targeted on making an impression on Saturday and taking his first step in the direction of complete featherweight domination.

“I’m going to placed on a superb efficiency, however crucial factor is getting that victory,” he stated. “You might have to discover that fifty/5 stability – in fact you need to go on the market and wow the individuals, however on the similar time, you don’t need to do something silly and get caught with one thing silly and I really feel that I’m excellent with that.

“I’m going to open some doorways, see what door is the best choice and no matter he exposes himself to, that’s the door I’m going to undergo. I plan on ending the present.”

Sounds acquainted, doesn’t it?