'They want me to get that punch back': Hakeem Dawodu vows to avenge Conor McGregor in Zubaira Tukhugov fight at UFC 253 (VIDEO)
Canadian UFC featherweight Hakeem Dawodu already holds a win over Khabib Nurmagomedov teammate Marat Magomedov. Now he plans to score a win over another, the man who sucker-punched Conor McGregor at UFC 229, Zubaira Tukhugov.
Speaking to the press at UFC 253 media day in Abu Dhabi, Dawodu said he recognized the opportunity that lays ahead of him on fight night against a fighter with something of a name among the sport's hardcore fans.
"Yeah, it's definitely a good opportunity. He's got a big name. Everybody knows him. He's the dude that punched Conor," he said.
"But I feel like I'm the superior fighter, I am the superior athlete, I've got the superior mindset and I feel like it's really my time to shine and represent Canada."
Dawodu has spent time training in Ireland at the same SBG gym that serves as McGregor's training base, and the Canadian prospect admitted that once his fight with Tukhugov had been made public, a few of the team from the Dublin gym reached out to him to encourage him to exact a little revenge on fight night.
"I got a lot of SBG people hitting me up saying, you know. I won't say what they're saying, but they're saying some things, you know what I mean, and they definitely want me to get that punch back, which I definitely will!" he smiled.
"I love Ireland, they treated me really good out there, and I got a really good connection out there."
Despite the history between Tukhugov and Dawodu's occasional training base in Ireland, Dawodu himself isn't treating the fight as a personal revenge mission.
He is riding a four-fight win streak and just wants to climb the UFC's featherweight ladder. A win over a notable name like Tukhugov would certainly help him in that quest.
But, despite the fact that he's facing the second teammate of UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, he doesn't see Tukhugov as an tougher fight than his first, against Magomedov, from his days fighting for the now-defunct World Series of Fighting organization.
"It's just another fight," he said.
"This will be the second of Khabib's teammates that I've put away, so it's nothing new. I've been here before.
"The first teammate of Khabib's that I fought was a better wrestler. He was 7-0 with six submissions. So I feel like this is nothing new, and I feel like I match up even better with this guy.
"I don't really care about whether he's Khabib's homeboy or not. I'm just looking at the fight stylistically, and I'm ready to perform.
"I'm looking to put him away, grab some of (his social media) followers, run my followers up, build my platform and keep it moving."Also on rt.com 'I could give a sh*t less about what anybody has to say': Dominick Reyes doesn't care about fan jibes ahead of UFC 253 (VIDEO)