Grant Dawson draws rebound inspiration from teammate Dustin Poirier ahead of UFC 302

When it comes to inspiration for how to bounce back from disappointment, Grant Dawson thinks he’s got a good example around him.

This past October, after more than seven years without a loss, Dawson got his first UFC headlining spot against lightweight Bobby Green. But Green handed Dawson a vicious knockout loss just 33 seconds into their main event in Las Vegas. Dawson was more than a 6-1 favorite in the fight.

Dawson (20-2-1 MMA, 8-1-1 UFC) got sent back to the proverbial drawing board with the setback, but will attempt a rebound in June at UFC 302 in Newark, N.J., against Joe Solecki (13-4 MMA, 5-2 UFC), who is looking to bounce back from a knockout loss of his own.

“You win some, you lose some – you move on,” Dawson told MMA Junkie Radio. “Bobby beat me fair and square. I’ve got nothing (I can say). It really wasn’t as big of a detriment as I thought it was going to be. I thought I was going to be super depressed. I thought I was going to be ‘This is the end of the world for me.’ But it really wasn’t.”

Dawson said American Top Team stablemate Dustin Poirier helped give him some inspiration and motivation in the days after his loss to Green. Rather than presuming he was back to Square One, he said Poirier’s trajectory after a knockout loss to Justin Gaethje proves the MMA game can be unpredictable.

He also called attention to divisional champion Islam Makhachev’s 2015 knockout loss to Adriano Martins, who lost five straight after he beat him.

“Plenty of people have lost to guys that, on paper, they should have beat. (Lightweight champion) Islam Makhachev, who everybody believes is the second coming of MMA Jesus Christ, he got knocked out by a guy that went on a seven-fight losing streak after knocking him out. So look what he can do.

“My teammate Dustin Poirier got knocked out by Justin Gaethje and now is fighting for the belt after just one win. This sport goes fast and you can’t be sitting and wallowing in self pity.”

After Dawson got into the UFC as a featherweight through the first season of Dana White’s Contender Series, he eventually moved to lightweight. His run up to the loss to Green incluced submissions of Jared Gordon and Mark Madsen and a win over Damir Ismagulov.

The fight with Ismagulov was the first time in the UFC that Dawson was a betting underdog, but he swept the judges’ scorecards and even had a 10-8 round. The Green fight should have been a true coming-out party into the top of the title picture, but Dawson instead was left trying to figure out how to progress.

“I’m taking things away from the fight that I need to get better on,” he said. “I’ve been working on those things in the time off and I’m excited to show how much better I’ve gotten and that I still belong in the top 15.”

And as far as anyone trying to brush off his loss to Green as a fluke, Dawson isn’t buying what they’re selling. Although he said the sheer lack of time he was in the cage against Green makes it counterintuitive to find areas to work on, he and his coaches think they did anyway.

“I don’t believe in luck. I don’t think that luck is a real thing. I don’t think Bobby got lucky,” Dawson said. “He made a read and I made a read. His read was correct. My read was wrong. I don’t know how you would say luck had anything to do with that. That was calculated speed chess, and he was a little bit better that night.

“One of the things that we’ve really been working on is being able to read punches a little bit more, knowing where to put my head to stay safe, keeping a little bit of a higher guard, moving my feet a little bit more, and then being more comfortable in the pocket when I do stay in the pocket. I’m not making an excuse here. It’s really hard to take things away from a 33-second fight, but I think we got what we needed out of the fight, and I think all we can really do is work on what we think we need to work on and see how it goes in the next one.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 302.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie