Grant Dawson believes lightweight is the best weight class in MMA.
On Saturday, Dawson delivered one of the best performances of his career, dominating Damir Ismagulov in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 76. Dawson’s takedowns and back control were too much for Ismagulov to compete with, with the American taking home a wide unanimous decision victory. And after the win, “KGD” was all smiles.
“You cannot be upset with a win against a guy like Damir,” Dawson said at the UFC Vegas 76 post-fight press conference. “It wasn’t about the performance — if you can get over on a guy like Damir, that’s something to be proud of. That dude is not ranked No. 12 in the world, he is so much better than that. They just put him at No. 12 for some weird reason. So I’m very, very happy with it.
“He’s one of those guys that you go for something and he gets away and ends up winning the round back, or even worse, he gets the finish. You have to be safe with these guys. These are the best guys in the world, in the top weight class in the world. There is not a harder weight class than 155. There isn’t. You can say 135 because of all the former champs that are up there, but it’s thinner. The top 15 might look the same, but everything outside the top 15 isn’t even close.”
As Dawson noted, the UFC’s lightweight division is one of the deepest and most difficult to advance in, and while the win over Ismagulov should move Dawson up to No. 12 in the UFC’s lightweight rankings next week, he’s still a long way off from a title shot.
Dawson said he’s not too concerned with that right now, though. He believes that the opportunity will come when it comes.
“I think everybody’s got a different path,” Dawson said. “Islam had kind of a weird path where he fought really good guys and then some not so good guys, and then some really good guys and then some not so good guys, and then looked great against the champion. You’ve got guys like [Mateusz] Gamrot, who is fighting literally anybody. He just called out Rafael Fiziev. Who the hell wants to fight that guy? Win, lose, or draw, you’re coming out with a closed eye, and my guy Gamrot is calling that dude out. What a G. Calls out any tough fight.
“Everybody’s path is different. I think I’ve just got to get back into the gym on Monday and get better.”
Another problem for Dawson in advancing up the lightweight ranks is the fact that he shares a gym with several other men in the rankings. Mateusz Gamrot, Arman Tsarukyan, and Renato Moicano all share the mats with Dawson at American Top Team, and “KGD” says he’s not trying to fight those guys.
“I have no interest in fighting Moicano,” Dawson said. “I have no interest in fighting Gamrot. Tsarukyan is on the table but it’s got to be the right circumstances. I train with these guys. I saw these guys before. Look, I’m not fighting Moicano. He’s a close friend of mine, that’s not happening. I really like Gamrot a lot. He’s a close friend of mine, I really enjoy training with him, I’m not really interested in fighting him.”
There is one matchup, though, that seems to make sense for Dawson. Next weekend at UFC 290, Dan Hooker and Jalin Turner square off in a fight between top-15 lightweights, and Dawson says that both the matchup and the timeline work well for him.
“Absolutely,” Dawson said. “I’m definitely down for that.”