The latest iteration of the UFC comes to you live, once more, this week from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. Headlined by a massive welterweight matchup between Vicente Luque and Rafael Dos Anjos, this card is sure to be a great one. Here, though, we are breaking down and predicting a great co-main event between UFC legend Cub Swanson and rising star Hakeem Dawodu. Read on below to find out our prediction for what will be a very exciting fight.
Cub Swanson: Consistently Inconsistent
Cub Swanson has been remarkably inconsistent as of late.
The UFC legend (and he certainly is that) has gone 3-3 in his last six UFC fights, with wins over Kron Gracie, Daniel Pineda and Darren Elkins being overshadowed by losses to Shane Burgos, Giga Chikadze and Jonathan Martinez. It's fair to say that Swanson has been struggling for form as of late. That being said, Swanson is making his return to the featherweight division for this fight, having lost his most recent fight to Jonathan Martinez whilst fighting at 135 lbs.
At 39 years old, it's pretty incredible that Cub Swanson is as hungry and determined as he is to fight. His career longevity is equally as remarkable, given his history of being involved in epic firefights over the years. It will be very interesting to whether we get methodical Cub Swanson or the “Killer” version on Saturday night.
Hakeem Dawodu: “Mean” Hakeem Seeking Big Scalp
Hakeem Dawodu is a very good fighter.
Widely considered as one of the top (albeit slightly older) prospects in the featherweight division, Dawodu is, like Cub Swanson, coming into this fight off of the back of a loss. In his last outing in the UFC in September 2022, he lost a unanimous decision to “Juicy J” Julian Erosa. He also missed weight by 3.5 lbs, and was resultantly fined and heavily criticised.
Despite that, Hakeem Dawodu was on a terrific run of form. Outside of a loss to Movsar Evloev at UFC 263, Dawodu had previously built up a five fight winning streak at featherweight, an impressive feat indeed. Now, he faces what it likely the toughest test of his career to date in facing grizzled veteran Cub Swanson.
Cub Swanson: Path to Victory – Move Forward, Kick Calves
Cub Swanson is a legendary, fan-favourite fighter for very good reason.
For one thing – he is more than happy to absolutely charge straight into the middle of a firefight with borderline reckless abandon. Believe me, this a man who is anything but afraid to throw down and throw hands with anyone who gets in his way. And this is actually going to be a big key to victory for Swanson. Because he suffers from the reach disadvantage in this fight (3.5″), he will likely look to back Hakeem Dawodu up into the fence, and then tee off on him. Cub Swanson's boxing is very, very good, and he is capable of flattening anybody if he connects cleanly. Hakeem Dawodu cannot allow Cub to do this.
Another key to victory for Cub Swanson is using calf kicks. Interestingly, Cub Swanson was now of the original pioneers of calf kicking in MMA (way before it was cool), and is incredibly good at them. Given that Hakeem Dawodu is a Muay Thai, strike-heavy fighter, successfully implementing calf kicks will go a long way to helping him secure victory in this fight.
Hakeem Dawodu: Path to Victory – Manage the Distance
Like Cub Swanson, Hakeem Dawodu also has a clear path to victory in this fight; one that is slightly different to Cub Swanson's.
Like Cub Swanson, Dawodu is a striker, and a very good one too. The big difference between Swanson's path to victory and Dawodu's is that, unlike Swanson needing to keep this fight close, Hakeem is going to want to manage the distance, especially given the 3.5″ reach advantage he has over Swanson. Having had nearly 60 Muay Thai fights, Dawodu's striking is incredibly crisp. When he gets into exchanges, he usually does a ton of damage in the process. If he is able to keep the distance and pick off Swanson from distance, then he might be able to initiate a firefight later in the fight and do some real damage to Swanson.
Official Prediction: Expect a Razor-Close Fight
Truthfully, this fight could change at the flip of a switch (or punch).
This fight comes down to two things: Cub Swanson's experience vs Hakeem Dawodu's distance management. If Cub can get this fight at close range early on, especially by peppering Dawodu with calf kicks at the beginning of the fight, then his chances of picking up the win increase quite dramatically. Furthermore, Swanson also has explosive power, so he could definitely knock Dawodu out if he connects cleanly enough.
Contrastingly, Dawodu has exceptional stand up striking of his own, and is more than capable of ending this fight at the drop of a dime. I do think that Cub might struggle a little with the range, just because Dawodu is so good at distance management and range control. For that reason, I think that Hakeem Dawodu will just edge this fight, and will win a decision over Cub Swanson, picking up by far the biggest name win of his career in the process.
Official prediction: Hakeem Dawodu to win via unanimous decision.