Kicking off UFC 253’s main card is a featherweight bout between “Mean” Hakeem Dawodu (11-1-1) and Zubaira “Warrior” Tukhugov (19-4-1). This is the best Canada vs. Russia action you’ll get outside a hockey rink.
There’s a caveat on this fight, unfortunately. At Friday’s weigh-in, Tukhugov came in at 150 pounds, four over the limit for Featherweight. Dawodu, on the other hand, was one under the 146 limit. The question is how this five-pound imbalance plays into the fight.
Dawodu is an insane striker, landing nearly six strikes per minute – coming close to the top 10 for the UFC. Zubaira has also leaned heavily on the standing game in the past, with only a single submission win in his UFC history. Thing is, that’s a lot compared to Dawodu, who has not landed a single takedown of his – get this – one attempt.
So, does Tukhugov’s extra weight give him an advantage where he’s clearly the more prepared for locking up and taking it to the ground? Or does it not matter when he faces Dawodu’s consistent striking attack?
The two 29-year-old fighters are the same height, but Dawodu has a serious 5-inch advantage on reach. Julio Arce, something of a submission wizard, couldn’t find a way to get past Dawodu’s impressive takedown defense last year. Can Tukhhugov?
I’m calling it for the underdog, here. Dawodu (+101) is a slight underdog to Tukhugov (-125). If you want to take a gamble, this might be the one. The striking game is too much to ignore.