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Co-Main Event Preview: Grant Dawson vs Ricky Glenn

Get A Unique Look At The UFC Fight Night: Costa vs Vettori Co-Main Event Between Lightweights Grant Dawson And Ricky Glenn.

Coming off a buzzer-beating finish of Leonardo Santos in March, Grant Dawson knew he’d be getting a step up in competition the next time he fought.

Returning from a two-and-a-half-year absence with a 37-second knockout win in June, Ricky Glenn was primed to jump on a short-notice opportunity and face anyone that would help expedite his climb up the lightweight ranks.

After Dawson’s early October date with ranked veteran Diego Ferreira fell through, Glenn was tabbed to take on the surging Contender Series alum in an intriguing clash of Midwest talents looking to forge ahead in the ultra-competitive 155-pound weight class that serves as the co-main event of this weekend’s fight card at the UFC APEX.

“I really like this matchup and the spot that we’re in, the co-main event,” said Dawson, who enters Saturday’s contest with a 5-0 mark inside the Octagon and a 17-1 record overall. “It’s not a super-big card, so that makes it easy for both of us to win bonus money if we have a Fight of the Night or a Performance of the Night, which I think is very possible, so I’m very happy with everything that is going on.”

Preview Every Fight On UFC Fight Night: Costa vs Vettori

The 27-year-old hasn’t had the rapid rise through the ranks that some of his fellow graduates from the annual talent search series have enjoyed in recent years, but over the last two-and-a-half years, the Glory MMA & Fitness representative has established himself as one of the top emerging names on the UFC roster, earning finishes in three of his last four fights as he’s transitioned into competing in the lightweight division.

It’s been a slow and steady burn for Dawson, who wouldn’t have it any other way.

Grant Dawson Earns Last-Second Knockout | UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs Holland
Grant Dawson Earns Last-Second Knockout | UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs Holland

“There are guys that come into the UFC their first fight —they’ve already got all this hype and build-up behind them, and people are expecting so much out of them, and a lot of the times, those guys don’t last that long,” began the streaking talent, who was a highly regarded prospect during his days on the regional circuit and hasn’t missed a beat since matriculating to the UFC. “Being able to get my feet in the dirt and build my roots in the UFC has helped me.

“Being 5-0 in the UFC and finally getting a co-main event spot on a smaller card, that’s perfect for me,” added Dawson. “I’m not trying to be 3-0 and get my main event shot. I’m not trying to be this and that; I just want to build my way up, keep getting better each day, and have that belt wrapped around my waist, whether it’s two years from now or 10 years from now.”

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While Dawson has spent the last couple years taking incremental steps forward in his career, Glenn spent a lot of that time on the sidelines, hopeful that he’d one day be able to get back to doing what he loves.

Glenn was a battle-tested veteran before he turned 30 and prior to reaching the UFC, having amassed an 18-3-1 mark with a featherweight title win under the World Series of Fighting banner and numerous bouts against the kind of tough regional staples that let you know where you stand. Upon arriving in the UFC, he split his first six appearances, most notably earning a unanimous decision win over Gavin Tucker in a one-sided drubbing, while establishing himself as a tough out for anyone standing across from him.

But a persistent hip injury put Glenn on the sidelines, and the recovery from having surgery to repair the issue kept him out of the gym for a year. Working his way back was a long, grueling process, which is why his impressive performance against Joaquim Silva this summer meant so much to him.

“I finally was able to get back in there and do what I enjoy,” offered the 32-year-old, who inked a new four-fight deal following the victory. “(I was out for) over two-and-a-half years, and every day I was working towards getting back in there, fighting for the UFC, and having a good performance, performing like I know I could, and it happened.

“I was pumped, and I knew it was going to happen — I felt it, it happened, and it’s hard to put it into words.

“I thought for my next fight, it would be nice to get a ranked opponent,” continued Glenn, who said he’d spoken with the UFC following his rapid finish of Silva about short-notice opportunities and wanting to hustle back into the Octagon. “I saw Grant’s opponent backed out and I mentioned I was interested.

Athlete Profiles: Grant Dawson | Ricky Glenn

“Grant’s on a tear — he’s 5-0 in the UFC, 17-1; a tough Midwestern guy,” he added. “He’s a good prospect and I’m looking to make another statement, perform like I know I can, and prove all the doubters wrong.”

Each man loves the pairing, and it’s one of those rare short-notice matchups where a victory can tell you a lot about either competitor, and where they stand in the lightweight division.

For Glenn, it’s a chance to topple a streaking emerging talent — a kid with burgeoning momentum and buzz that is knocking on the door of the Top 15 — and instantly put himself into the thick of things in the loaded 155-pound weight class just five months and two fights after returning from an extended absence.

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Highlight: Ricky Glenn Marks Return with a Big Statement | UFC Fight Night: The Korean Zombie vs Ige

For Dawson, it’s a risky matchup against a game and grizzled veteran coming off a very good win, but the type of assignment he knows he needs to ace in order to prove he has what it takes to eventually stand atop the division.

“I definitely love the matchup,” began Dawson. “He’s tough and one of those guys that is going to hang around. I just also think I’m tough and that I hang around, and if you put our skill versus skill, I can’t see a way — other than an early knockout like he got in his last fight — I can’t see a way that he’s going to be able to out-grind me, out-precision me.

Significant Stats From UFC Fight Night: Costa vs Vettori

“They offered this matchup after the whole thing with October 2nd not working out and I took it immediately. I’m here to fight. I’m here to prove that I’m one of the best in the world, and if I can’t beat Ricky Glenn on four weeks’ notice with a little changeup, then I’m not the best in the world.

“This is definitely a test for me,” Dawson added. “I’m not looking past him in any way, shape, or form. I’ve been preparing for him like a madman and it’s my job to go out there and show that I’m on another level and I deserve these main event spots, eventually these title shots, and these ranked fighters.

“I’m not just going to go out there and win, I’m going to win impressively; that is the goal.”

While Glenn tends to keep things focused more on the here and now, he shares Dawson’s belief that this is a competitive fight, although he sees a different outcome than his opponent does, of course.

“I try to own the day and not think about the end goal as much,” Glenn began, sharing an approach that only comes after you’ve been through some struggles. “Obviously all of us fighters want to be world champion and get the UFC belt, but if you fantasize about that too much, I think you’re going to lose track and let things slip away.

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“I’m here and I’m going to perform well. I trained hard, I’m surrounded by really good people, and I’m in a really good place in my life; I’m blessed.

“I see me winning,” he added. “However he comes at me will determine how that happens, but I’m ready to go full Gladiator-mode wherever it goes.”