Hakeem Dawodu earned a split decision victory over Zubaira Tukhugov tonight in the main card opener at UFC 253.
Dawudo misses with his first leg kick, but then does connect lightly with a jumping body kick. He utilizes the same technique again.
Inside leg kick for Dawodu. Again back to the jumping body kick for him. Good left hook counter for Tukhugov as Dawodu comes into range.
Leg kick for Dawodu. They get into clinch range and Tukhugov roughly shoves his opponent away.
Glancing left hand for Tukhugov as Dawodu lands a leg kick. Inside leg kick for Dawodu now. Straight right connects for Tukhugov. He unleashes it again. Inside leg kick for Dawodu and then a strike to the body.
Tukhugov with a jab. Missed right hand from Tukhugov and Dawodu trying to counter with punches of his own. Tukhugov loading up on the right hand but not finding the mark. Body punch from Dawodu.
High kick attempt from Dawodu. Right hand for Tukhugov, but eats a counter punch.
Back to the jumping body kick from Dawodu. Spinning back kick from Dawudo to the body only partially lands. Both fighters pump out the jab.
Glancing uppercut from Tukhugov. A jab apiece lands. Jab for Tukhugov, but a crisper one from Dawodu. Uppercut threatening from Tukhugov. The pace being picked up here from both men as they start to let their hands go with more frequency.
Punch from Tukhugov and Dawodu lands to the body. Outside leg kick from Dawodu. Nice left hand from Dawodu and Tukhugov immediately goes for a takedown attempt, but it’s stuffed.
Body punch from Dawodu and then a leg kick. Dawodu with a liver punch. Tukhugov in on another takedown attempt and this time he gets it with about a minute to work.
Half-guard for Tukhugov as he stays patient on top. Tukhugov’s left arm is trapped under Dawodu’s body for now, but as his opponent is trying to stand, he adjusts and stays on him until the horn sounds.
Outside leg kick for Dawodu. The jumping body kick lands. Then the outside leg again. He takes his time and then lands it again.
Hard upper body kick from Dawodu. Tukhugov in aggressively for a takedown attempt, but he can’t stick it and they stay at striking range.
Big left hook for Dawodu. Tukhugov in on another takedown attempt against the cage. Dawodu remains upright for now as he defends the position. Tukhugov able to muscle Dawodu to the mat, but he springs straight back up before he can capitalize on it.
Body punch and a head strike lands for Dawodu. Inside leg kick. Now a body kick. Left hand for Tukhugov, but Dawodu clinches up and then back to striking range.
Dawodu starts shouting at Tukhugov and then blasts him with punches. He continues shouting at him to fight. leg kick for Dawodu. He misses with the jumping body kick. Tukhugov just continually backing up now, apparently content to take this one to the judges.
A close fight then and that leads to a split decision verdict that goes in ‘Mean’ Hakeem Dawodu’s favor (28-29, 30-27, 29-28).