The UFC is back! This weekend, perennial middleweight contender Sean Strickland looks to build on his decision win over Nassourdine Imavov with another win over rising star Abus Magomedov. But we're not here to talk about that. We're here to offer our prediction for the co-main event – a lightweight firecracker between two starlets of the division; Damir Ismagulov and Grant Dawson. Read on below to find our official prediction for this excellent co-main event!
Prediction – this fight is a certified banger
Straight off the bat, many have made the prediction that this is the best fight on the card, hands down. Damir Ismagulov is a very, very good striker with an extremely potent Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu base, whilst Grant Dawson is a potent finisher of fights. Both fighters are also coming into these fights on very different runs of form. Damir Ismagulov lost his most recent fight to Arman Tsarukyan, whilst Grant Dawson is riding a 10 fight undefeated streak. It is extremely intriguing to see how both fighters will approach this matchup, especially given that they both come into this fight in such contrasting recent form.
Damir Ismagulov: Going out with a bang?
For those of you who don't know, this is actually the last time you will see Damir Ismagulov.
Following his loss to Arman Tsarukyan, Damir Ismagulov made the announcement on January 1st that he was retiring from competition due to “circumstances and health problems.” However, he revealed later in the month that he actually had one fight remaining on his UFC contract, so promised to see said fight out. He was as good as his prediction, coming back to take on the challenge of Grant Dawson at the UFC Apex.
Grant Dawson: Looking to continue scorching streak
As previously mentioned, Grant Dawson is on a red-hot run of form at the moment. Currently riding a 10 fight undefeated streak, it's fair to predict that Grant Dawson will be coming into this fight with just a slight feeling of confidence.
His last fight was by far his most impressive result. In facing a multiple gold medal winner Olympoan in Mark Madsen, Dawson (albeit coming in at 157.5 lbs – 1.5 lbs over the lightweight limit), he still choked him out with a very impressive rear naked choke. If Grant Dawson can successfully implement this level of dominance and aggression against Damir Ismagulov, then the prediction of many that Grant Dawson is destined for stardom will be taking one giant step closer to coming to fruition.
Damir Ismagulov: Path to Victory – Manage the Distance, Manage the Damage
Make no mistake about it – Damir Ismagulov is an incredibly accomplished fighter.
Ismagulov is a former M-1 Global lightweight champion, and has some phenomenal boxing to boot. His ability to put together excellent combinations, as well as his ability to use the jab to manage distance extremely effectively makes him a nightmare opponent for nearly anyone that he faces. In fact, the only person to really enjoy success against Damir was Arman Tsarukyan, who's wrestling is, admittedly, exceptional. But it's very hard for anyone to replicate that kind of success. Will Grant Dawson be able to do it? Only time will tell…
As mentioned above, if Damir Ismagulov can implement his incredibly strong boxing game, then this could be a very tough night for Grant Dawson. If Dawson can't get this fight to the ground, then the prediction becomes very clear – Damir Ismagulov will dictate the pace of this fight, and will be able to keep it exactly where he wants it.
Grant Dawson: Path to Victory – Get it to the Ground
It's been made pretty clear from what we've said that Grant Dawson is a pretty damn good wrestler.
Any time Grant Dawson has gotten into the cage, he's dragged his opponents to the depths, outworked them and dominated them. Case in point, his most recent matchup against Mark Madsen. To smother and dominate a multi gold winning Olympian is something that is truly impressive, and it was a victory that really made a lot of people stand up and take notice.
This leads to a very clear prediction for Grant Dawson – he has to get the takedowns and get this fight to the ground to have any realistic chance of winning it. If Damir Ismagulov can keep this fight on the feet, then Dawson could be in a lot of trouble.
Another factor to consider in this fight that dovetails with the wrestling issue is that of cardio; Grant Dawson's isn't all that great, but Ismagulov's is. Dawson has shown a tendency to fade the longer the fight goes on, and that could be a real problem if he can't get Damir down to the deck.
Official Prediction – Who Wins?
Our official prediction is that Damir Ismagulov picks up a huge victory in his last fight in the UFC, if indeed it does prove to be his curtain call.
I just think that Damir's boxing prowess is going to be too much for Grant Dawson to handle. If the fight stays at range, Damir should have the ability and experience to control it with ease. If Grant Dawson rushes in, then Damir has the ability to time the shot and potentially put Dawson in a world of trouble. Plus, even if Grant Dawson does manage to land the takedown, Damir Ismagulov's BJJ game is strong enough that he should be very confident in himself on the ground.
Official prediction: Damir Ismagulov to win via unanimous decision.