Octagon debutants meet on the main card of UFC 254 looking to make an immediate impact as perfect 4-0 Jacob Malkoun takes on Phillip Hawes. Who will leave having made the ideal start to their UFC career?
Jacob Malkoun makes his UFC debut on Saturday having only turned professional in 2017. The Australian enters a division that includes huge Oceanian stars in current champion Israel Adesanya and former titleholder (and Malkoun’s long time training partner) Robert Whittaker, hoping to become the latest contender from the region.
A perfect record has seen Malkoun presented with an opportunity in the UFC; “Mamba” has two TKO and two decision wins from his bouts. His last fight was over a year ago when he beat Sebastian Temesi by unanimous decision at Eternal MMA 48.
It will be interesting to see how Malkoun performs after this period of inactivity, along with an increase in the quality of his opponent, this weekend. At 25 years old he is six years younger than Hawes and has much less professional experience.
Phillip Hawes (8-2) is also making his promotional debut this weekend, having won his UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) last month with an early round-one TKO victory against Khadzhimurat Bestaev. It has been a long road to the UFC for Hawes as he has appeared on The Ultimate Fighter in series 23 and on the first series of DWCS in what were ultimately unsuccessful attempts to make it to the octagon.
However, Hawes is now poised to make his debut and goes into the matchup on a four-fight winning run. The American has kept himself busy this year and this will be his third contest of 2020.
“Megatron” has never been in a fight that has gone the distance – his victories have come via six TKO and two submission finishes, with six wins coming in the first round and the others within a minute of round two. Both of Hawes’ losses came midway through the second round.
In this meeting of UFC newcomers, I am expecting a stand-up battle with both men searching for an impressive finish on a massive stage that will force people to take notice of them.
Prediction: Malkoun by KO/TKO