Odds/Predictions: Hakeem Dawodu (+100) vs. Zubaira Tukhugov (-120)
Fireworks look certain in a flyweight fight between Hakeem Dawodu and Zubaira Tukhugov, which opens Saturday’s main card in a fixture where the margins are incredibly close.
This bout has added drama due to Tukhugov’s involvement that broke out in the wake of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s win over Conor McGregor at UFC 229 in 2018. The Dagestan fighter jumped the cage to punch “Notorious” after the result and was suspended for one year, while Dawodu (11-1) has a score to settle after he trained at SBG Dublin, McGregor’s gym, around the same time.
Tukhugov (19-4) is unbeaten in two fights since returning from that suspension (one win, one draw), the most recent of which was a first-round knockout defeat of Kevin Aguilar in February. He leads the odds at -120 with William Hill, but all the more reason to think it’s Dawodu offering the value.
New Jersey bettors can double their money backing “Mean” to win, while a victory by KO or TKO fetches a far superior price of +450.
Tukhugov’s only knockout loss came back in May 2012, a head kick defeat to Akhmet Aliev, and the sole KO win of Dawodu’s UFC career just happened to be a head kick victory over Yoshinori Horie in July 2019.
Dawodu’s terrific stand-up game stands a good chance against kickboxer Tukhugov, who doesn’t appear to boast quite the same standard of ground skills as some of his Dagestani countrymen.
Prediction: Dawodu via KO/TKO