UFC Fight Night Odds, Pick & Prediction: Phillip Hawes vs. Nassourdine Imavov (Saturday, Jan. 16)
Chris Unger/DWCS LLC/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Phillip Hawes reacts after his knockout victory at UFC APEX.
Editors note: According to Ariel Helwani of ESPN, Phil Hawes is not medically cleared to fight and the bout has been called off.
Phillip Hawes vs. Nassourdine Imavov Odds
The UFC returns in 2021 on Fight Island where two 9-2 fighters will face off. Dana White Contenders Series alumni Phil Hawes faces off against the 6-foot-3 Nassourdine Imavov in the featured undercard fight at 185 pounds. Both fighters have limited UFC experience, making this a massive fight for both of their careers.
Hawes looked phenomenal in his first official fight on the UFC roster, knocking out Jacob Malkoun in just 18 spectacular seconds. Hawes was a sizable underdog at +195 prior to the fight and was like a rocket out of a cannon to start.
Hawes will be seriously tested against Nassourdine Imavov, who will be looking to bring the fight to the ground. It is worth mentioning that Phil Hawes was a JuCo National Champion wrestler, making him no stranger to takedowns.
Hawes’ Path to Victory
Hawes is a fairly priced favorite in this matchup at -128 on FanDuel Sportsbook. He is slightly undersized for the 185-pound division at 5-foot-11, but makes up for it with a 77.5-inch reach compared to Imavov’s 75-inch reach. The especially long reach from Hawes is a crucial advantage so he does not get bullied by the larger Imavov.
Hawes had two fights on the Dana White Contender Series, with one loss and one win. Hawes was knocked out by Julian Marquez via head kick in the second round of his Contender Series debut. He was given a second chance on the show and landed a clean first-round knockout of Khadzhi Bestaev to earn a UFC contract.
Hawes has three UFC fights under his belt and his average fight time is 2:59. He lands 49% of his strikes but does absorb 4.81 strikes per minute. Hawes is very much the type of fighter to take two shots to land one, and hopefully land a knockout. This is exactly what he has done in his career. His last five fights have ended in the first round.
Hawes has devastating knockout power and bookmakers recognize that as his most likely road to victory at +145. However, his submission skills are badly undervalued, coming in at a whopping +2200. Hawes always goes for the finish. Expect fireworks from the New Jersey native.
Imavov’s Path to Victory
Nassourdine Imavov is just 24 years old and already has 11 fights under his belt. He was born in Dagestan, Russia, but moved to France when he was nine. He is best known for his size at 185 pounds and has solid groundwork that led to a very strong decision victory over Jordan Williams. He was close to several submissions during the fight, especially as Jordan Williams began to tire.
In his first UFC fight, Imavov was forced to shoot for a takedown multiple times in the first round after being rocked on two occasions in the stand-up battle. Imavov will need to limit his damage in the next fight against Hawes. It is clear that Jordan Williams does not possess the knockout power of Hawes.
Imavov’s best chance at a victory is to land a takedown and test Hawes’ jiu-jitsu. In three UFC fights, Hawes has not been taken down nor had to defend a submission. Imavov would appear to have the advantage in the ground game, so expect him to shoot for a takedown quickly if he is being threatened on the feet.
You could find Imavov by submission at +550, which is excellent value given the need for him to take this fight to the ground.
Both fighters are UFC newcomers, making it important to provide a finish early to continue their momentum up the ladder. Imavov started extremely slow against an outmatched Williams. Williams is not near the caliber of fighter as Imavov but still took the first round on all of the judge’s scorecards.
Hawes is going to be looking to continue his first-round finish streak while Imavov will be looking to make the fight a clinch battle. Styles make matchups, I would expect Hawes to get the job done early.
If Imavov starts off how he did against Williams it could be a quick night for someone with Hawes’ power.
There is little value in betting Phil Hawes to win via first-round knockout at +380 when you can get either fighter under 1.5 rounds at +120. We do not know how Hawes’ jiu-jitsu will stack up against Imavov, who will be looking for submissions early and often.
Pick: Under 1.5 rounds +120