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At long last, Chris Curtis has joined the Ultimate Fighting Championship ranks.
On Friday morning, MMA DNA first broke the news that Curtis (26-8) has been signed by the promotion to step in on extremely short notice and face Phil Hawes (11-2) at middleweight. Hawes was originally booked against Deron Winn, but Winn was forced out of the match for non-COVID, non-weight related, undisclosed reasons. The signing was confirmed by multiple outlets, and then cemented when Curtis hit the scales on Friday to make weight at 184.5 pounds.
Shortly after Curtis successfully made weight, MMA Fighting reported that despite this, the fight has been scratched from this UFC Fight Night 194 card. Per ESPN, Hawes turned the fight down as he did not want to face a different opponent on a day's notice. It is currently unclear if Curtis will be paid his show money as he did make weight, or if the matchup will be preserved for a later date. However, Curtis will remain on the UFC roster to compete inside the Octagon at a later date.
“The Action Man” Curtis has rattled off five straight wins since a largely unsuccessful run under the Professional Fighters League banner, most recently taking a decision over UFC vet Kenny Robertson. When with the PFL in 2019, Curtis reached the playoffs thanks to a third-round knockout of Andre Fialho. A pair of decision losses to Magomed Magomedkerimov and a subsequent knockout to Ray Cooper III – the latter coming the same night after losing and then retiring for a few minutes – saw him end his PFL tenure. Curtis previously appeared on the second season of Dana White's Contender Series, and although he won by knockout, he was not signed, and retired after that fight as well only to come back.
Since joining the organization off the fourth season of DWCS, Phil Hawes has strung together three wins inside the Octagon. His debut over Jacob Malkoun in October 2020 could not have gone better, as he wrecked the Aussie in 18 seconds. Decisions over Nassourdine Imavov and Kyle Daukaus – the first two decision wins of his career – put him on a track towards contendership.
UFC Fight Night 194 will carry on with nine fights inside the UFC Apex on Oct. 9. The headliner sees Marina Rodriguez take on Mackenzie Dern in a high-stakes strawweight tilt. Drawing the co-main event assignment is a welterweight brawl between Randy Brown and Jared Gooden, while Tim Elliott vs. Matheus Nicolau at flyweight sits in the “featured fight of the night” slot.