A pair of promising middleweight talents went head-to-head at UFC Vegas 19. In main card action, Phil Hawes was matched up with Nassourdine Imavov, with both men coming in off wins in their respective UFC debuts.
More than that, both fighters were on solid win streaks: Imavov had won six straight, dating back to 2017. Hawes, a former Bellator and Brave CF fighter, had won his last five.
The pair had originally been booked for January, but an injury to Hawes had pushed the bout back.
Hawes opened the affair with a leg kick and followed it up with a second before Imavov pressed forward with a combination. Imavov looked to land the right then another, but Hawes countered then avoided the followup. Imavov moved in with a right but Hawes locked the clinch and pressed Imavov into the cage. The two worked against the cage with Hawes landing to the body and head. Imavov landed a knee and avoided the single leg take down attempt from Hawes. Hawes didn’t give up and secured a second take down attempt, thought he ate an elbow from Imavov. Hawes worked the ground and pound and was able to land a few strikes before the round came to a close.
Hawes had clearly found a route to victory in his wrestling. After scoring an 18-second finish in his debut, he looked to be in it for the long haul on Saturday. Hawes opened round two with a leg kick, while Imavov threw a right. But Hawes ducked under it and looked for the take down. He pressed Imavov into the fence, where Imavov looked to land strikes and a knee when Hawes dropped levels for the take down. Imavov was able to spin free and landed a pair of hard left hands that looked to have hurt Hawes. Imavov pressed, but Hawes again dropped levels as Imavov closed in and secured the take down. As he had in the first, Hawes used his wrestling to secure the round, with Imavov left firing back from the bottom to run out the round.
The momentum shifted in the third. Imavov got off first with a front kick right down the middle— but again Hawes was quick to secure the take down. Imavov was quickly back to his feet and now worked in the clinch with his back to the cage. Imavov broke free; the two exchanged in the middle of the cage. Hawes pressed forward but Imavov was looking for the counter. Imavov was able to land a nice upper cut, but Hawes immediately got the clinch and pressed Imavov into the fence. Imavov was able to land an elbow from the cage then a huge knee that wobbled Hawes. He looked to finish the fight, but Hawes was able to get the clinch and press Imavov into the fence again. From there, Imavov was able to land another elbow and a knee that again hurt Hawes. Hawes appeared to be holding the fence at times. Imavov followed up with a combination and Hawes was badly hurt. For Hawes it was either luck for instinct but he kept moving forward, almost falling into a clinch of Imavov against the cage. Hawes managed to survive the round, which led to a majority decision win — with one judge calling it a draw after giving Imavov a 10-8 in the third.
Official Result: Phil Hawes def. Nassourdine Imavov by majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28)