In the aftermath of his dominant win over Damir
in the
UFC on ESPN 48
co-main event, Grant
found it difficult to find fault with his

“I am my harshest critic, but you can’t be upset with a win against
a guy like Damir,” Dawson said at Saturday’s post-fight press
conference. “It wasn’t about the performance. If you can get over a
guy like Damir, that’s something to be proud of. That guy is not
ranked No. 12 in the world. He’s so much better than that. They
just put him at 12 for some weird reason. I’m very, very happy with
the 30-27, 30-27, 30-26. I’m happy with it.”

The American Top Team product attached himself to Ismagulov’s back
in each frame, hunting for chokes and landing ground-and-pound when
the opportunity presented itself. About the only thing he didn’t do
was secure a finish. That’s easier said than done against an
opponent like Ismagulov, who once compiled a streak of 19
consecutive victories.

“I was expecting three rounds,” Dawson said. “He’s one of those
guys that you go for something and he gets away and he ends up
winning back the round, or even worse, getting 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.”

Dawson, who is unbeaten in nine Octagon appearances, figures to
have made an impression on UFC brass with his lopsided win over a
ranked lightweight contender.

“I think that I knew what could happen,” he said. “When things
start to go your way, it just goes to show the improvements I’ve
made … Everything was about showing the UFC that you can put me in
these high-level fights against guys that I’m an underdog against,
and I can pull off these wins. I can perform. It’s not that I’m
just squeaking out a win. I can perform if you put me in to these

As for what lies ahead, Dawson doesn’t have a clear path mapped
out. He points to reigning lightweight champ Islam
as an example of someone who didn’t necessarily take
a traditional route to the top of the division.

“I don’t really know. I think everyone has a different path,”
Dawson said. Islam had a weird path where he fought really good
guys and then not-so-good guys, and then some really good guys, and
then not-so-good guys, and then he looked great against the
champion. … Everyone’s path is different. I think I just have to
get back into the gym on Monday and get better.”

With that being said, there figures to be no shortage of
interesting matchups for Dawson going forward. One thing that
doesn’t interest him, however, is squaring off against American Top
Team training partners.

“I have no interest in fighting (Renato) Moicano. I have no
interest in fighting (Mateusz) Gamrot. (Arman) Tsarukyan is on the
table, but it’s got to be the right circumstance,” Dawson said. “I
train with these guys. I’ve seen these guys before. 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.”

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Grant Dawson Confident He Proved Himself with Lopsided Win at UFC on ESPN 48