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Hakeem Dawodu wants to open a drug rehab facility: ‘I’ve lost eight friends’

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The fentanyl crisis in Canada has taken away multiple lives from Hakeem Dawodu, including one of his closest childhood friends.

Hakeem Dawodu has lost a lot of important people to drug overdoses, and he wants to make a difference.

Dawodu revealed how the fentanyl crisis in Canada has affected him personally. Fentanyl is a powerful opioid sometimes mixed with heroin, methamphetamine, or cocaine. It can be taken intentionally or unknowingly mixed into other substances. Having lost multiple friends to drug overdoses, Dawodu wants to open a drug rehab center in his native Calgary.

“I used to be a little bit addicted to drugs, coming up when I was young and going through what I was going through,” he told without elaborating on his substance history. “I’ve just seen a lot of my friends go down that road addicted to drugs. Especially now with this whole fentanyl dilemma going on. I’ve lost eight friends.”

“Just recently at this training camp last month, I lost one of my best friends. I just got him tattooed on me. My friend Riley Walls overdosed from fentanyl and this was a kid that I’ve known since grade three,” he continued. “His mom took me in when I was 14 when I had no place to go. We used to live together. Him dying last month over the overdose, it was really close to home. It’s very sad and it’s a very big dilemma we’re facing. I’ve lost way too many friends over this drug so it’s definitely something I’d like to try my best to help anyone who is struggling with addiction.”

No. 15-ranked Dawodu (12-1-1) fights 14th-seeded Movsar Evloev (14-0) at UFC 263 this weekend (Sat., June 11, 2021) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Dawodu touched on his slow ascent through the promotion and what a win on Saturday night will earn him.

“I feel like it’s moving kind of slow. I just didn’t really get the recognition and maybe enough eyes on me as I thought I would,” he confessed. “Things happen. Maybe I have to start talking trash a little more, get my name out there. That kind of seems to be the theme, the trash-talking. It’s moving a little slow but I definitely feel like after this fight, after I get a win over this guy, they can’t deny me a Top 10 [opponent] and my career can start excelling to where I want it to be.”

File “photos of Hakeem Dawodu smiling” next to unicorns and leprechauns. The aptly named “Mean” Hakeem earned his nickname thanks to his mean mug, but he was challenged to name three things that make him smile.

“Sparring,” he said with a stone-cold demeanor. “Some good cultured food. And just socializing with my friends and whatnot. I’ll add a fourth one, getting a new fight contract and moving up to the Top 10.”

UFC 263 takes place inside Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz., streaming live on ESPN+ pay-per-view (PPV). The fan-filled event is headlined by a rematch pitting UFC Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya opposite Marvin Vettori. Also on the card is a Flyweight title rematch between division champion, Deiveson Figueiredo, and No. 1-seeded challenger, Brandon Moreno.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 263 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 263: “Adesanya vs. Vettori 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.