UFC Fight Night 213’s Phil Hawes: ‘I’m finally becoming what everyone expected me to be’

LAS VEGAS – High expectations were placed on Phil Hawes early in his career, and he hopes his journey will inspire other young fighters who are pinned to be the next big thing.

The Dana White’s Contender Series veteran came out of the gates on fire in his UFC debut, finishing Jacob Malkoun in just 18 seconds. After that, however, Hawes (12-3 MMA, 4-1 UFC) edged out a majority decision over Nassourdine Imavov, followed by a unanimous decision over Kyle Daukaus.

Even though he won those two decisions, many expected him to show up and close the show early as he did in his debut. The lofty expectations were not met by those who picked him to be the man to run through the division and quickly claim UFC gold. Then, he was finished by Chris Curtis in the first round, and those people began to adjust what they expected from Hawes.

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Whether or not the criticism and expectations were fair, Hawes picked himself up and went back to the drawing board. He showed up at UFC on ESPN 37 in June in great shape and took out Deron Winn with vicious elbows in the second round.

After that performance, and leading into UFC Fight Night 213 at UFC Apex to face Roman Dolidze, Hawes feels everything is coming together.

“I’m finally becoming what everyone expected me to be years ago,” Hawes told MMA Junkie and other reporters at Wednesday’s pre-fight news conference. “I’m blessed to be here, and it’s all coming to fruition. It just took time. It took longer than we expected, you know? We were supposed to be here, I don’t know, five years ago? UFC champ, next Jon Jones – but it’s just taken time, and now we’re here. So, it’s coming.”

Hawes, 33, expects to come out fast against Dolidze (10-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC), as we’ve seen him do in the past. Just like his last outing against Winn, he expects to close the show before the judges have their say.

“He’s OK, but I’m tough too,” Hawes said. “I’m gonna get it crackin’ on Saturday and get him outta there. You know what I’m about.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 213.

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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie