The Ultimate Fighting Championship has certainly taken the quantity-over-quality approach for this set of prelims. However, there is a little bit of everything with the nine-bout UFC Fight Night 185 undercard on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, meaning the loaded slate should move the show along quickly. A featherweight clash pitting Nate Landwehr against Julian Erosa leads the way in terms of guaranteed bangers, but there are also veteran-versus-prospect battles like Eddie Wineland-John Castaneda and whatever Luis Pena-Drakkar Klose turns into at 155 pounds.
Now to the preview for the UFC Fight Night “Blaydes vs. Lewis” prelims:
MiddleweightNR | Phil Hawes (9-2, 1-0 UFC) vs. NR | Nassourdine Imavov (9-2, 1-0 UFC)
ODDS: Hawes (-125), Imavov (+105)
It has been a longer road than expected, but Hawes finally looks ready to make an impact in the UFC. Hawes may have been the consensus top prospect in the world a few years ago, but attempts to get into the UFC always went poorly for “Megatron,” as Andrew Sanchez turned him back in a fight to get into “The Ultimate Fighter 23” house and he was knocked out by Julian Marquez on Dana White’s Contender Series a year later. After racking up some quick wins, Hawes got another shot on DWCS and finally cashed his UFC ticket with a knockout. After another swift knockout in his UFC debut, Hawes’ next test comes against Imavov. Born in Dagestan and fighting out of France, Imavov certainly lives up to his “Russian Sniper” nickname, as he looks to stay at a distance and pick apart his opponents. His last pre-UFC win against Jonathan Meunier and his UFC debut against Jordan Williams were solid proof-of-concept fights, but Imavov also is not quite as defensively slick as he thinks; he is hittable. Whether or not Hawes has the cardio to go more than one hard round remains a question, but he also has the level of speed and power he needs to shock Imavov before that becomes a factor. The pick is Hawes via first-round knockout.
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