For the UFC’s second run on Fight Island, the big event has always been UFC 254. The card is headlined by the reigning lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov going against the number one contender (and interim champ) Justin Gaethje. Also on the card is Robert Whittaker vs Jared Cannonier, a possible number one contender fight for middleweight champ Israel Adesanya. After earning his UFC contract on the Contender Series, Phil Hawes will make his octagon debut a little over a month out from his last fight. He will be fighting the debuting Jacob Malkoun.
Jacob “Mamba” Malkoun
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Smeaton Grange/Stand Strong Boxing
How will Malkoun fare in the UFC:
When it comes to Jacob Malkoun, I don’t like the fact he’s only 4-0 but I really like everything else. Malkoun is an ADCC Asia 2019 trials winner and a 2019 pan pacific gold medalist. Sharpening up his well-rounded game he’s also 3-0 as a pro boxer.
On the feet, Malkoun fights behind a good jab. He’s always throwing more than one punch with a crisp one-two and throws with kicks behind and in front of strikes.
Malkoun has strong grappling but I’m afraid his wrestling doesn’t match his ground game. He is good once he closes the distance but his ability to close the distance is telegraphed. If he can learn to disguise his entrances behind strikes he will find more success with his takedowns. It’s easy to be impressed with his ground and pound which is arguably his best weapon. “Mamba” is excellent at sitting in the guard landing short punches and nice elbows. His positional grappling is good and that compliments his ground and pound.
Malkoun has gone all three rounds twice and has looked fresh the entire time. I know it’s been tough for him to get fights but his level of competition has still been poor. He’s only 4-0 so it’s hard to tell how good he is. With that said, at the age of 25, he’s looked solid.
- Striking: B+
- Kickboxing: C+
- Clinch: B
- Wrestling: C+
- Grappling: B
- Striking Defense: B-
- Takedown Defense: ?
- Cardio: B+
- Biggest Strength: Ground and Pound
- Biggest Weakness: Nothing glaring
How he matches up with Hawes:
Like Malkoun, Hawes has only beaten lesser competition. Every time he’s had a step up in competition he’s come up short. Still, Hawes has it all — he’s very athletic, excellent wrestling, and power in his hands. On the feet, Malkoun may have a slight advantage. He’s more technical and throws more in general. Hawes still may be a problem as he’s the more explosive, athletic, and has much more power. I don’t see Malkoun having success in the wrestling. Hawes is the better wrestler and Malkoun is the better grappler. Whoever can get the top position, I see them as the one who will always be in control. Hawes has looked great lately and even though he’s had some setbacks he at least has the edge in quality of competition. The pick is Hawes in this one, but it’s not a confident one.