During the co-main event of UFC Vegas 76, Dawson exhibited one of his most outstanding performances by completely dominating Damir Ismagulov. His impeccable takedowns and control from the back proved insurmountable for Ismagulov, resulting in a resounding unanimous decision victory for the American fighter. Grinning from ear to ear, Dawson expressed his satisfaction after the win.
Reflecting on his triumph, Dawson remarked during the post-fight press conference, “You can’t be disappointed with a victory over someone like Damir. It’s not just about the performance; defeating a competitor of Damir’s caliber is truly commendable. He deserves a much higher rank than 12th in the world—they simply undervalued him. So, I’m extremely pleased with the outcome.”
He continued, acknowledging the challenges that come with facing such formidable opponents: “He’s the type of fighter who manages to escape your clutches and turn the tables, or worse, secure a finish. One must exercise caution when dealing with fighters of this caliber. These individuals are the cream of the crop, competing in the most elite weight class in the world. Without a doubt, there is no weight class tougher than 155 pounds. Sure, one might argue that the 135-pound division possesses former champions who elevate its difficulty level, but it’s relatively thinner. The top 15 might appear similar, but anything beyond that pales in comparison.”
Dawson rightly recognizes the UFC’s lightweight division as one of the most competitive and challenging divisions to progress in. Although his victory over Ismagulov should secure him the 12th position in the lightweight rankings, he understands that he still has a long way to go before earning a title shot.
Nonetheless, Dawson remains unconcerned about the timeline, believing that the opportunity will present itself in due course. He stated, “Every fighter follows a different path. Islam had a peculiar journey, facing tough opponents followed by relatively weaker ones, and then once again squaring off against top-level adversaries, culminating in a magnificent showing against the champion. Take someone like Mateusz Gamrot, who fearlessly takes on anyone. He even called out Rafael Fiziev. Who would willingly step into the octagon with that man? Win, lose, or draw, you’re bound to come out with a swollen eye, and yet Gamrot willingly seeks out such daunting challenges. What a warrior, calling out any formidable fight.”
Dawson emphasizes the individuality of each fighter’s journey. He understands that he must return to the gym on Monday and continue honing his skills to improve further.
One obstacle Dawson faces in climbing the ranks of the lightweight division is his affiliation with several ranked fighters from his gym. Mateusz Gamrot, Arman Tsarukyan, and Renato Moicano all train alongside Dawson at American Top Team, and he has no intentions of fighting them.
“I have no desire to fight Moicano,” Dawson declared. “Nor do I wish to face Gamrot. Tsarukyan is a possibility, but only under the right circumstances. These guys are my training partners. I’ve known them for a long time. Look, I won’t fight Moicano. He’s a close friend, and it’s out of the question. I have a deep bond with Gamrot, and I thoroughly enjoy training with him. I’m not interested in fighting him.”
However, there is one matchup that Dawson finds appealing. At UFC 290 next weekend, Dan Hooker and Jalin Turner will clash in a battle between top-15 lightweights. Dawson believes that both the fight and the timeline align perfectly for him.
“Absolutely,” Dawson affirmed. “Count me in for that.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about lightweight division
What weight class does Grant Dawson believe is the best in MMA?
Grant Dawson believes that the lightweight division is the best weight class in MMA.
How did Grant Dawson perform in his fight against Damir Ismagulov?
Grant Dawson delivered an exceptional performance, dominating Damir Ismagulov in their fight.
What did Grant Dawson say about the difficulty of the lightweight division?
Grant Dawson stated that the lightweight division is the toughest weight class in MMA, with top-level competition.
Why does Grant Dawson believe the lightweight division is the hardest?
Grant Dawson believes the lightweight division is the hardest due to the caliber of fighters and the depth of talent within the weight class.
Who does Grant Dawson train with at American Top Team?
Grant Dawson trains with fighters such as Mateusz Gamrot, Arman Tsarukyan, and Renato Moicano at American Top Team.
Is Grant Dawson interested in fighting his training partners?
Grant Dawson expressed no interest in fighting Renato Moicano and Mateusz Gamrot, as they are close friends and training partners.
Who does Grant Dawson consider as a potential opponent?
Grant Dawson mentioned being interested in a potential matchup with Dan Hooker or Jalin Turner.
How does Grant Dawson feel about his victory over Damir Ismagulov?
Grant Dawson is very happy with his victory over Damir Ismagulov and considers it an accomplishment to defeat a fighter of his caliber.