When it comes to undefeated lightweight prospect Grant Dawson, who faces the Illinois-based Robert Washington on the Titan FC 37 card on Fri., March 4, 2016 in Ridgefield, Washington, there's one thing he does exceptionally well and that's wrangling the necks of foes until they quit.
Dawson, a 22-year-old from Nebraska, is 8-0 in his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career thus far and six of those wins have come by way of rear-naked choke. The grappling ace went straight from high school into MMA and had his first amateur bout at the age of 18.
You can watch Dawson make his Titan FC debut opposite "The Beast" live and exclusively on the UFC Fight Pass digital streaming service, unless Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) decides to jump on his offer to replace the injured Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 196.
Dawson talks to MMAmania.com:
First off, being that you're very young, have you ever had a sibling or cousin ask to use you as backup in the event of an argument, or altercation?
Dawson: All the time. My sister does it a lot. Anytime someone is giving her a hard time at school, or she's just joking around, she'll be like 'don't make me get Grant down here.'
Give me an example of a fighter that was instrumental in you taking up MMA.
GD: I watched GSP as an amateur then in UFC. Chad Mendes was definitely a big inspiration for me; his constant grind and moving forward. Another big one is [UFC lightweight champion] Rafael dos Anjos. I honestly try to mimic him. I love his pressure. I'm constantly moving forward, as is he.
What was your favorite memory of competing in amateur MMA?
GD: My first amateur fight, I fought a gentleman named Justin Weaver. I weighed in 155 and he weighed in at 185. There was a mix up and I fought him. He tossed me around the cage and I ended up catching him in a triangle in the second round.
Years later, I fought him again in my last amateur fight, and he came down to 155. He's one of my best friends now, but I walked through him and submitted him with a rear-naked choke. The improvement was real. I realized I could take a step up and move professional.
What do you think about this shift we're seeing towards popularity, and who can deliver the best soundbites?
GD: Fame and fortune is great and all. I want it, sure, but I'm in this sport to be the best fighter in the world. I hear guys saying, 'they don't pay me enough to fight this guy.' Dude, I would pay to fight in UFC. If I have to talk trash to make a bit more money, perfect, but it's about the fighting.
Your opponent has 29 professional fights under his belt and has a penchant for the knockout, how do you see this fight playing out?
GD: The biggest thing is always looking for the finish. We want to pressure, throw the hands and land a takedown. I like to go one fight after another. I want to be 20-0 by the end of this year.
He's kind of a wrestler/striker. I don't think he can outwrestle, or outstrike me. I know he cannot out-jiu jitsu me. I'm going to push the pace, get in his face. I want him to make it an exciting fight and I want him to be tired.
Lastly, what do you see for yourself in the near future? Do you anticipate a call up to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)?
GD: I'm ready whenever. If they said you got six weeks, six days, or six hours, to get ready for this fight -- it doesn't matter. I had a phone call with [UFC matchmaker] Sean Shelby and he said he's protecting Conor McGregor a little bit longer, so he's going to have to keep me out of UFC to get a few more pennies out of him.
For more on the Titan FC 37 card click here.