MMA is a sport known for putting viewers in awe. The art of being locked in a cage and competing like lives are on the line, are some things that make people love this shit.
Calling the year 2020 a success for the UFC is an understatement. The company flourished in the hardest possible times. The year also brought plenty of new names to the spotlight, like Kevin Holland, but also forced us to accept the departure of legends, like Yoel Romero and Anderson Silva.
Overall, every year is hard to top in a sport like MMA and in 2021 expect no different. As we are set to have three UFC cards in just seven days, starting on January 16th, it’s no shock Uncle Dana wanted to start us off with some bangers after a few fightless weeks. It was hard to pick just 5 out of the 39 scheduled bouts this month, but I’ll add a few honorable mentions.
5. Phil Hawes -160 vs. Nassourdine Imavov +130 (UFC on ABC 1: Jan. 16th)
Both of these Welterweights have identical records at 9-2, as well a UFC record of 1-0. This fight is a very tricky one for each of the two involved. Phil Hawes had been on the UFC’s radar for years prior to finally being called up after his DWCS 1st round KO in September. Hawes was so eager to make his UFC debut, he took his first UFC fight just a month later. In his debut he sent Jacob Malkoun into another dimension with a left hand earning himself an 18 second KO. For Imavov, his debut went way different. The Frenchman actually got clipped and stunned in the first by Jordan Williams which forced him to shoot for a takedown. Fortunately, that was the best thing that happened to him, as he dominated the grappling exchanges after that earning a decision win.
This fight is a very close one. Hawes has had trouble with great grapplers and wrestlers early in his career. Imavov will most likely have a grappling advantage here, but Hawes will have an extreme advantage in power and will like to keep this one on the feet. Imavov is riding a six fight win streak and hasn’t lost since 2017, Hawes is on a 5 fight win streak and his last loss was in 2017 as well. This is going to be a technical war, don’t miss it.
4. Shane Burgos -200 vs. Hakeem Dawodu +160 (UFC 257: Jan. 23rd)
This is matchmaking at its finest. I’m convinced this fight was made for the fans. Burgos is 13-2 (6-2 UFC) and calling him a fan favorite is accurate. Dawodu is 12-1-1 (5-1 UFC) and is an absolute warrior. Without a doubt these guys are going to put on a show and I expect nothing less. The public seems to believe that Burgos is the higher level fighter, which résumé wise is accurate, but never rule Hakeem Dawodu out of a fight. Dawodu started his UFC stint with his first career loss however, he has won five straight since that day in 2018. Burgos seemingly needs this win. He is 3-2 in his last five and is coming off a loss.
Burgos at -200 is just a bit too high here. I obviously won’t give a for sure play now, but if Burgos continues to shoot up so will Dawodu’s value. Either way, this is an awesome fight and these two will step in the cage aiming to finish the fight.
3. Dan Hooker -170 vs. Michael Chandler +140 (UFC 257: Jan. 23rd)