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UFC 253 Odds & Pick Prediction: Early Betting Value on Hakeem Dawodu at Fight Island

UFC 253 Odds & Pick Prediction: Early Betting Value on Hakeem Dawodu at Fight Island article feature image

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Hakeem Dawodu of Canada.

  • Hakeem Dawodu is in better recent form, but he's listed as the underdog across the market to Zubaira Tukhugov ahead of UFC 253.
  • In his fight preview, Reed Wallach explains why there is value Dawodu at plus money in tonight’s featherweight scrap at Fight Island

Hakeem Dawodu vs. Zubaira Tukhugov Odds

Dawodu odds +110 [BET NOW]
Tukhugov odds -137 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 2.5 (-215/+160) [BET NOW]
Venue Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
Time 10 p.m. ET
Channel ESPN PPV

Odds as of Saturday night and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

Saturday’s UFC 253 main card opens with an intriguing featherweight battle between Hakeem Dawodu and Zubaira Tukhugov, which could jumpstart a run for either unranked man in the division. Oddsmakers are expecting a hotly contested fight: Dawodu sits as the slight underdog at +101 while Tukhugov is listed as the early week favorite at -125.

Dawodu comes in with a professional record of 11-1-1 while Tukhugov is the more experienced fighter at 19-4-1 with a more complete takedown game, but I find myself siding with “Mean” Hakeem in this battle of emerging featherweight contenders.

Tale of the Tape

 Dawodu Tukhugov
Record 11-1-1 19-4-1
Avg. Fight Time 11:58 11:17
Height 5’8″ 5’8″
Weight (pounds) 145 lbs. 145 lbs.
Reach (inches) 73″ 68″
Stance Orthodox Orthodox
Date of birth 7/2/91 1/15/91
Sig Strikes Per Min 5.28 2.58
SS Accuracy 46% 38%
SS Absorbed Per Min 2.31 2.07
SS Defense 64% 68%
Take Down Avg 0.00 2.88
TD Acc 0% 56%
TD Def 85% 100%
Submission Avg 0.0 0.0

Dawodu packs a powerful punch and brings a ton of activity to this matchup. He more than doubles his opponent in significant strikes landed per minute (5.28 compared to 2.58, according to and his strike differential (+2.97) is far superior to Tukhugov’s (+0.51) as Dawodu leads all active featherweights with the highest mark in the division.

Dawodu’s high activity could make a difference in this one as both men are exceptionally durable, but “Mean” has proven he can maintain his output throughout the fight.

Things can get dicey for him if he lets Tukhugov take him to the ground and control rounds. The Russian is constantly hunting for takedowns with nearly three per 15 minutes and leads all active featherweights with a 56.5% takedown accuracy rate. Dawodu has shown to be wise to takedown attempts, however, with an 85% takedown defense, which ranks third among active featherweights.

Dawodu vs. Tukhugov Betting Pick

While “Warrior” will try and work in level changes to get Dawodu to the ground, these two enjoy standing and hunting for knockouts.

So, why do I like Dawodu? For one, “Mean” comes in with a significant edge in reach. Standing at the same height, but possessing a 5-inch reach advantage, Dawodu should be able to strike from range and use his length to put together combinations that end with him going for the high leg kick he enjoys.

Another reason for favoring Dawodu is the style of each fighter. Both of Tukhugov finishes in the UFC have come in the first round, while his three other wins have come via decision. If he can’t finish this fight quickly, Tukhugov will likely try to drag the match out.

Dawodu tapped out in his lone professional loss and I expect him to outlast the early offense from Tukhugov and become more dangerous as the fight goes on as he owns two third-round KO’s in his career (one in WSOF and one in the UFC). Depending on how Round 1 goes, I may add a live bet to Dawodu if the price shoots up above +200.

This fight is going to be a barnburner and Tukhugov is more than capable of winning this fight by decision, but Dawodu’s high octane offense, strong takedown defense and ability to stay dangerous late into fights makes me believe that there is an edge on the Canadian’s side.

Both men are trying to make a push towards getting a number next to their name, and I see it as a close fight, but I think Dawodu’s offense is more reliable over the course of this fight. At plus money, this is a play on “Mean” for me, and I would recommend betting him up to -115 as I don’t see much difference between the two to make one a favorite over the other.

The Pick: Hakeem Dawodu +101 (play up to -115)

[Bet Dawodu at DraftKings and get a $1,000 bonus, including a $500 risk-free bet]

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