“Mean” Hakeem Dawodu is the newest member of Team MuscleTech. He’s currently using Amino Build, Iso Whey Clear, Clear Muscle, Cell-Tech and more to prepare for his upcoming mixed martial arts bout on September 26. This Calgary, Alberta, native has a record of 11 wins, one defeat and eight knockouts in the featherweight division.
We asked Hakeem about his preparations, his upbringing and what strength means to him.
We know you fight next on September 26. How long does it usually take you to prepare for a bout?
“I usually know about 8 to 10 weeks out that I’ll be fighting and that’s really all I’ll ever need.
Preparation for this fight is the same as it has been for previous battles. I’m doing the same types of things, like training hard and eating right. But, this time around, I’m trying all the new MuscleTech products – which deliver protein, aminos and more – to help me prepare.”
Where did the “Mean” in Mean Hakeem come from?
“Back in the day, I started with Muay Thai, where you never choose your own name, and at my gym, you weren’t able to get a nickname until you at least had 20 fights under your belt. I remember I had a fight, which I won, but didn’t really stop the fighter. So, my coach made a quote that went something like, ‘Hakeem is good, but he lacks a little bit of that killer instinct.’
Obviously, that made me angry, and after that, I knocked out the next seven people in a row. That’s when I became “Mean Hakeem.”
When did you first get into using supplements?
“Probably as soon as I turned pro, or at the very least, when I was a high-level amateur. When I started reaching the 30 to 40 fight mark, I began taking amino acids, because I used to get a lot of lactic acid, and protein, just to get some extra protein in me.”
Have you seen more and more supplements in the gym lately? Especially with professional fighters?
“Definitely. I’ve noticed that everyone is using supplements now. It’s just part of being an athlete.
Especially at the professional level and needing to train several times a day across different disciplines, everyone needs that extra little something to give them that push.”
Take us through a training day for you. What does it consist of?
“It’s Thursday, so wake up, go to my boxing gym. I’ll skip for like 20 minutes, shadowbox for another 20 minutes, then I’m on the heavy bag and hitting pads with my coach. I’ll probably finish with some cooldown shadowboxing. That’s my first session of the day.
After that, I’ll go to strength and conditioning with my coach, and after that, I’m either at Jiu-Jitsu or Muay Thai kickboxing. So, I train three times a day and that’s usually how I mix it up.”
How do you recover from that type of intense workout?
“I’m a big fan of amino acids, so I’ve been using my MuscleTech Amino Build for that, as well as protein recovery. I also make sure to get a power nap in and make sure I’m hydrated. That’s been a part of my routine for years.”
When did you decide that mixed martial arts could be a full-time career for you?
“I first thought I could make a career out of this when I won my first amateur world title in 2012. At that point, I was like, ‘Okay, I might be able to do this.’
For most high-level amateurs, there’s usually a make-or-break moment where they believe going professional is possible and that was it for me.”
You’ve got a very interesting background. Tell us about your family.
“I’ve got a Canadian flag, a Nigerian flag and a Jamaican flag. My mom is Nigerian. My dad is Jamaican and competed in the 100 meters growing up. His dad was actually a pretty big bodybuilder in Jamaica, so athletics have always been in my family.”
When you aren’t preparing for a fight, how are you staying in shape?
“If I don’t have a fight coming up, I’m training hard. If I’ve got a fight coming up, I’m training very hard.
My friends always rag on me, because I don’t really do much except train, sleep, eat, repeat. But, I figure I can do all of the fun stuff when I can retire.”
What don’t people realize about training for mixed martial arts?
“I don’t know any high-level athlete who isn’t spending a significant amount of time on strength and conditioning, especially with the grappling and the wrestling involved. When you’re training for a big fight, you’ve got to have your Jiu-Jitsu on point, your wrestling on point, your boxing on point. It’s a combination of so many different things. It’s a lot to work with.”
Aside from not being able to compete, how did the COVID-19 outbreak impact your training?
“Honestly, I was pretty lucky. The only thing that happened was that I had fewer sparring partners for a bit. My gym was open, and as one of the guys who teaches there, I had a set of keys. So, I had access to weights, heavy bags, you name it.
The only thing that changed was that I had fewer sparring partners, but thankfully I wasn’t as impacted.”
Mixed martial arts has a massive social media presence. How do you deal with that part of the job?
“Social media is so important these days. People make careers and make millions off of these platforms alone. Actually, I need to step up my own social game, because I’m not posting as much as I could be.
When I first started, many of the most popular sites didn’t exist, so you were just fighting to fight. Now, you literally have fighters who have made their mark and fame off of social media alone. It’s definitely a different game.”
What about your style will stand out for first-time viewers?
“They’re going to see a mix of beautiful strength and technique, and beautiful mixed martial arts. I’m a pressure fighter. I’m aggressive. I don’t stop going for the KO. You’re going to see slickness, explosiveness and something they’ve never seen before.
There’s only one Mean Hakeem, and I guess the only way I can prove that is to tune in and see what I’m talking about.”
What does strength mean to you?
“Strength means a lot of things. Strength physically. Strength mentally. Strength spiritually. You’ve got to have all three. If you’ve got all three, you’re in good shape.”