Calgary’s Dawodu enters UFC 253 bout with sights on top featherweights

Article content continued

“At the same time, I’m a shark and I’m on the same level as these guys, if not better. This is my 71st fight coming up. I’m a former world champion kickboxer, I was the best amateur, decorated kickboxer there was, so there’s nothing I haven’t been through and nothing I can’t handle. I’m definitely at the top with these guys and I’m right there with them.”

Dawodu has every reason to believe in himself. He’s riding a four-fight win streak and with the exception of a loss in his UFC debut to Danny Henry, has never really looked all that troubled in the octagon since joining the promotion in 2018.

His MMA record is 11-1-1 and he’s comfortably handled every step up in competition the UFC has thrown his way, whether it was from Austin Arnett to Kyle Bochniak, or from Yoshinori Horie to Julio Arce.

Tukhugov represents another step up. He’s a solid, well-rounded fighter who can do lots of damage both on the ground and with his striking. He’s nobody’s idea of an easy fight, including Dawodu.

“He’s got a good left hook, you know what I mean, and he’s a decent wrestler. But I’ve dealt with that camp before and I’ve dealt with wrestlers before and there’s nothing he’s got that I can’t deal with,” Dawodu said. “I’m looking to put this guy away when I start to see him fade.”

It’s easy to understand why Dawodu might be feeling a little impatient. After beating Arce last November at Madison Square Garden, there were all sorts of rumours about who might be next for the 29-year-old.