Skip to main content
Grant Dawson punches Mark O. Madsen of Denmark in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Athletes

Grant Dawson Is Seeing The Fruits Of His Labor

Lightweight Contender Grant Dawson Knew His Sacrifices Would Pay Off As He Continues His Climb At UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs Magomedov

Grant Dawson wasn’t always Grant Dawson, UFC lightweight contender about to compete in a co-main event on Saturday against Damir Ismagulov.

He used to be just another hungry up-and-comer hoping for the wins and breaks that would get him to the big show. And here he is. He got those wins, he made his own breaks, and it’s all up from here for the 29-year-old. 

MORE FIGHT NIGHT: Saturday's Full Fight Card Preview | Fighters On The Rise | Main Event Spotlight

Of course, he’s not done with his journey yet but, at the moment, how does he deal with life at the top, going from unknown to well-known in the space of a couple years, with all the good, bad and ugly that comes with it, including random comments from those who find it amusing to poke fun at pro athletes?

“I think the best way to do it is just to ignore them,” said Dawson of the negativity that comes along with being successful in his day job. “I got into an argument with somebody online once and it lasted two-and-a-half hours, and at the end of it, it ruined my entire day. I thought about it for a couple of days after that and nobody won. Nobody. If anything, he gets to go and tell his wife that he riled up a UFC fighter where I get to go tell my wife that some dude, a nobody, got to rile me up. So I've just been ignoring them.”

Grant Dawson Fight Week Interview | UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs Magomedov
fight pass logo
Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

This video is not available in your country

There was a problem while loading content. Please try again.

Grant Dawson Fight Week Interview | UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs Magomedov
/

It's enough to make someone turn off social media and never look back. But while Dawson doesn’t feed the trolls, he has gone above and beyond the call of duty to engage not just with fans, but his fellow fighters who are looking to one day get where he’s at. And thus far, his TikTok series “Making it to the UFC using Fight IQ” has not just been a rousing success, but a chance for “KGD” to give back to his community.

“I've gotten a lot of really young fighters reach out to me and I even called a couple of them and just chatted with them,” said Dawson. “They've had great questions that for every one of those nine s**tty comments of people telling me, ‘No, you're wrong. Do it this way,’ there's nine more that say, ‘This is really helpful. Please keep making these videos.’”

Covering everything from training to choosing management and working to supplement fighting income on the way up, Dawson is frank and unselfish with his time and knowledge of what it takes to make it to the top. So in an increasingly cynical world…why?

Check Out All The Exciting Events At International Fight Week

“I was extremely lucky because I had the right people around me at the right time,” he said. “I had a manager that wanted to take care of me and didn't just want to make a paycheck off me. And I see a lot of these young fighters that are just making a lot of really stupid mistakes. The thing that I always say is this sport would be so much harder if everybody was as hardworking and if everybody was as smart because there'd be so much more competition. But there's probably 10 fighters out there that could beat me that never made it to the UFC because they took stupid fights out of their weight class or because they took short notice fights or because they jumped on an opportunity to make a thousand dollars against a guy who’s 94-1. I was lucky enough to have smart people with good intentions behind me, and I don't think that all of these kids have it. 

“One of the videos that I made was knowing what your dream is,” Dawson continues. “Do I just want to fight? Do I want to make it to the UFC? Do I want to be a UFC top contender? Do I want to be a world champion? And really knowing what that is, and then, can the gym that I'm at get me there? And I got a lot of people being very positive and asking good questions. But then you always have those guys that have these 50-50 records that are saying, ‘You're wrong. Loyalty over everything.’ Loyal? What are you talking about? You were born in a town and that's circumstantial. And then you went and paid these people money to teach you how to fight. That's not loyalty. That's called a f**king business. So if keeping these people that you don't really owe anything to happy is more important to you than reaching your goals, then you don't really want those goals.”

Grant Dawson punches Jared Gordon in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX
Grant Dawson punches Jared Gordon in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 30, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

See, there are no holds barred in Dawson’s assessment of the fight game, and when someone who made it the UFC talks about what it takes, it’s usually a good idea to listen, even if every situation doesn’t match his. But if one thing is made abundantly clear when it comes to Dawson, it’s that he has life outside the Octagon together, and that makes life in it presumably easier. And that ability to balance both didn’t start last week.

Dana White Announces Grasso-Shevchenko 2 For Mexican Independence Day

 
“I'm from Stromsburg, Nebraska, and there were 27 kids in my graduating class,” he said. “That's how much of a small, little nowhere town that nobody's ever heard of is. If you watched a movie, you would say, this is BS. You can't make it from a small, little town. I believe anybody can make it. I one hundred percent believe that anybody that is willing to put in the work and make sacrifices can make it in this sport. And when I say make sacrifices, I don't mean don't party. That's a given. I mean, okay, this guy can't get me to where I want to go, but he's one of my best friends and I don't want to hurt his feelings, so I'm going to stay with him. And then 10 fights later, you, you've lost 10 in a row and you kind of realize, shoot, now it's too late. I'm talking about those guys that are like, I'm willing to lose these friends that I have in order to chase this dream. My entire wedding party was all Glory (MMA) guys. Every single one of them was Glory guys. And I talk to maybe one or two of them right now because I moved away and I changed my life and I did something different. And you lose friends when you do that. And I think people that are willing to make this type of sacrifice can do it.”

Dawson’s move from the Missouri camp to South Florida and American Top Team surprised some when it happened, but no one is questioning it now. Dawson’s a contender, he’s got a co-main event, and he’s rapidly rising in one of the UFC’s toughest divisions.

Maybe he knows what he’s talking about.

Order UFC 290: Volkanovski vs Rodriguez

UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs Magomedov took place live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 1, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!