Since his impressive performance on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2020, Phil “Megatron” Hawes is 3-1 in the UFC and 11-3 professionally. His opponent, Deron Winn, is 7-2 professionally, while also having four fights in the UFC, going 2-2 over that span.
Hawes and Winn are known to have real animosity toward each other, as the hyper-compact wrestler of Winn believes he will easily out-wrestle the former junior-college national champion and former Division 1 wrestler from Iowa State, Phil Hawes. Meanwhile, Hawes, having the wrestling acumen he does, believes his grappling and jaw-dropping power will be far too much for the extremely short-statured Winn to handle. Come Saturday night, we will find out who will be able to put their money where their mouth is and begin the serge to becoming a ranked middleweight contender!
With having faced the much better opponents to date, it comes to little surprise to see Hawes as a sizable -280 favorite over Winn.
Hawes’ -280 odds mean that a winning $100 bet would return just $135 this weekend. Winn is listed at +210 at the moment, meaning that a successful $100 bet would return $310 on the night.
When watching DWCS, I frequently scoff at the hype surrounding the fighters, particularly when they first fight in the UFC. Phil Hawes, however, was and continues to be a complete anomaly to my traditional stance. The main reasoning for this extends beyond his fight skills alone, as he showcased the most determined performance on DWCS, not in the sense of winning the fight to earn a UFC contract, but the determination to quickly ascend to contending middleweight status.
The UFC must have seen the same mental fortitude and vision as I did, given Hawes has mostly faced high-end middleweight prospects since his arrival. In those bouts, Hawes put forth consistent performances throughout. Often, Hawes will begin fights looking to land heavy punches and will be more than content to make his fight night a quick affair. But, if the fight gets out of the first round, he will elect to forego heavy-power punching as he will look to implement his credential wrestling to grind his way to a victory.
Transitioning away from power early to a more consistent path to victory through wrestling is a tremendous game plan to have. Moreover, the ability to do so against elite strikers and elite grapplers shows the plan can be implemented against nearly any fighter. The only issue with Hawes is that the – successful – plan is largely cardio-induced as I believe he would elect to strike for all 15-minutes if his cardio allowed him to effectively do so. In this matchup against an equally strong wrestler, Hawes may find it difficult to successfully wrestle once he is sufficiently tired; if indeed the case, he may be put in a situation where he is unfamiliar, to say the least.
Deron Winn, unsurprisingly given his stature at this weight class, is a wrestler through and through. Knowing this, his first major attribute is not his actual takedown ability, instead, his fight intelligence because he fights out of the singular best gym for someone who is an undersized wrestler – American Kickboxing Academy. The largest data point, and perhaps the only one needed, is that this gym helped produce the HOF career of Daniel Cormier, which was largely built on getting inside against a much larger opponent to successfully wrestle.
Winn, just like Cormier, does a solid job using a jab and short, pepper-like punches to work his way inside, and once there, he is not shy about shooting a takedown. In his most recent fight, Winn rinsed and repeated this form of technique, ultimately resulting in him having secured 12 of 16 takedowns. The relentless pursuit of the singular aspect of fighting that Winn do well further shows his intelligence, but also shows his major weakness, that is, if he cannot wrestle his way to a victory, he has no alternate route to a win.
Rather than forecasting which fighter is the better wrestler when inside the octagon, I will choose an alternate path of analysis when choosing a victor. This alternate path likely deviates from the norm, as I expect Phil Hawes to clock Deron Winn early in the fight, allowing him to earn a quick and decisive victory. Hawes’ striking acumen contrasted against Winn’s subpar, stationary striking should allow him to land cleanly, and if done, Hawes has the power to put the lights out.
Bet: Phil Hawes by KO; 1st Rd KO (+425 odds on BetUS)
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