Calgary fighter Hakeem Dawodu dominant in win at UFC 231
145-pounder battered and bloodied opponent Kyle Bochniak to earn surprising split-decision victory
Calgary featherweight fighter Hakeem Dawodu was up against more adversity than just his opponent at UFC 231 in Toronto on Saturday — he was also battling a cold.
Despite that, the 27-year-old was dominant in a split-decision victory over American Kyle Bochniak, with two judges giving Dawodu a lopsided 30-27 score, while a third had it 29-28 for Bochniak.
"I was pretty surprised when they announced a split decision," said Dawodu, echoing the sentiments of many observers.
"I got the win though and felt dominant doing it, so that's all I can ask for."
The 145 pound Dawodu improved to 2-1 in the UFC with a controlled performance that bloodied Bochniak.
"I wanted to go for the finish but this whole week I've been kind of fighting a cold," he told reporters after the fight.
"Usually in the third round I can really push, I've got good cardio but I felt a little bit of a burn in my lungs, so I got a little bit more tired than usual. But at the same time, I shouldn't have left it in the hands of the judges, I felt like if I pushed harder I could have got the finish."
Dawodu said he was sneezing when he arrived in Toronto on Tuesday.
"I asked my nutritionist to give me some vitamin C and I was taking oil of oregano and that kind of suppressed it," he said.
"I didn't really feel the cold until the second or third round, my lungs were burning a little more than usual. But at the same time, he was a tough guy and I was expecting a tough fight."
The win follows an impressive performance at the UFC on Fox event in Calgary in July and all but erases the memory of his disastrous debut at UFC Fight Night in London, England in March, where he was submitted in 39 seconds.
"I am definitely starting to feel comfortable," he said.
"It's crazy, it's my third UFC fight in one year, I feel like by my next fight, when I heal up … you'll see the old Mean Hakeem back and I'll get back to my knockout ways."
Looking ahead, Dawodu said he'd like his next fight to be outside Canada.
"Maybe something like Australia, or Brazil, China," he said. "Just keep getting my name out there, getting more exposure and climbing up the ranks."
Wants 4 fights in 2019
Dawodu said he'd like to fight four times in 2019.
He has one fight left on his UFC contract and wants to stay with the organization.
"It's the number one league, it's the league to be, they're treating me very nice, they're keeping me active," he said.
Canadians went 2-3 on the UFC231 undercard with Elias (The Spartan) Theodorou and Brad (Superman) Katona both winning decisions. Kyle (The Monster) Nelson, Chad (The Disciple) Laprise and Olivier Aubin-Mercier lost.
Theodorou used his in-ring interview after the fight to further plead for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for athletes prescribed medical cannabis, which he says he uses to combat bilateral neuropathic pain.
The 30-year-old middleweight had applied for an exemption from USADA — the United States Anti-Doping Agency — which oversees the UFC's drug testing program, but was denied.
In the main event Saturday, 145-pound champion Max Holloway used his superior striking and movement against challenger Brian Ortega, leaving him bloodied and causing his left eye to swell nearly shut.
The ring doctor called a stop to the fight before the start of the fifth round.
Holloway landed 290 significant strikes, setting a new UFC record.
The main event was named 'fight of the night,' earning both fighters a $50,000 US bonus, and Holloway also earned a 'performance of the night' bonus, also worth $50,000 US.
In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko captured the vacant 125-pound women's flyweight championship, scoring a dominant, unanimous decision victory over Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
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With files from the Canadian Press