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2015 Bloody Elbow MMA Scouting Report #1 Middleweight: Phil Hawes

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T.P. Grant and Zane Simon highlight a Middleweight prospect who has a chance to be a phenom talent.

Phil Hawes throwing picture perfect flying knee
Phil Hawes throwing picture perfect flying knee
Ryan Loco

Going into this both Zane and I thought Middleweight would prove to be a bit of a talent desert as the division has long been notable for its lack of young talent. But we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of talent we found and the quality of talent at the top. The best talent was extremly young, all of our Top 3 fighters have ~1 year of pro fighting each, which does demonstrate that this surge of talent is very recent.

Scroll on down to the table for links to every scouting report we've published or tune into the MMA Prospectus show on Fridays live on Google Hangouts or check out the posts of Bloody Elbow on Saturdays. For details on what makes a fighter a prospect and how Zane and I grade out prospects check out the Methodology post.

#1 - Phil Hawes

Record: 3-0 Height: 6'0" Age: 26 Years Pro: 1

Country: U.S.A. Team: Blackzilians Base: Wrestling

Phil Hawes has the resume one would expect of a top flight MMA prospect. He is a Junior College Wrestling National Champion from Iowa Central Community College. The ICCC Wresting Room has produced several JUCO Champions turned MMA fighters including UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez, UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, and Bellator Featherweight Champion Joe Soto. Hawes made a brief run at Freestyle in 2012 before moving to Albuquerque to join the Jackson-Wink MMA gym. He turned pro in 2014 after a short amateur career and collected a 3-0 record by the fall of that year. Hawes has since relocated to South Florida and has joined the Blackzilian camp.

Strengths

T.P. Grant: Hawes is a pretty excellent athlete, in addition to his wrestling ability he has been picking up the particulars of MMA really quickly. His striking still looks a bit stiff at times, but he has a comfort in punching range that is really unusual a new striker. Hawes likes pressuring forward and already has a decent feel for bringing his head offline in the pocket. Hawes has powerful takedowns that he finishes with authority. He changes levels really quickly and blasts through on his takedowns extremly well. On the ground Hawes looks for positional advancement, and once he gets to a solid position he puts down intense pressure and just crushes opponent's hips. He has a budding submission game from the top

What really makes Hawes an outstanding prospect are not his individual skills, it is how he puts them together. Hawes as an understanding of how to transition from his striking to his takedowns and then on the ground how to mix strikes in with his guard passing.

Zane Simon: It's not terribly hard to see what Phil Hawes does best. He's biggest strength is most likely, well... his strength. The man is a beast and uses his wrestling base to just toss fighters to the mat where he crushes them with smothering top control. Even in areas where he's not terribly technical, his natural power and aggression carry him really nicely. It's the kind of raw physical advantage that you see out of only the very best athletes on their way up in the sport. Just bigger, faster, and stronger than their competition by leaps and bounds. In that way, Hawes can only impress.

Add to that that he's got a deep technical base as a former collegiate wrestler, and even made a run at an Olympic team, and it feel's like the sky is the limit. Fortunately, as well, it's not just power and wrestling, but the way he blends the two. At times he reminds me a bit of Daniel Cormier, in the way he makes getting takedowns look like utterly effortless domination. It's a skill set I'm looking forward to watching him evolve.

Points of Development

T.P. Grant: There are things for Hawes to work on, he has only been fighting for about a year. His ground striking isn't overly devastating and really is more of an accumulative sort of damage that, when combined with his nasty top pressure, drains opponents of their will to fight. His passing likely needs to keep evolving or at the higher levels he'll turn into more of a grinder than a positional advancer. But those things will improve with more time in the game.

Zane Simon: The biggest and most obvious thing Hawes needs to improve are his striking skills. He's got the power and the predilection, but at times appears to be throwing his whole body forward behind his strikes. The kind of technique that, against better fighters can lead to throwing himself onto a punch. It's something I really expect Hooft to iron out, but it definitely needs ironing.

To go with that, while Hawes obviously has a lot of time on the mats as a wrestler, I'm not quite sure just how his wrestling game will translate for consistency. He looks amazing at the level he's fighting at, but at times I wonder if he's not just overpowering weak opposition, rather than showing that technical skill. I said above that I can see flashes of Daniel Cormier, in how effortlessly powerful he makes his takedowns look, but I want to see what happens when he struggles. Will he chain and out-work a good counter wrestler, or will he end up at range trying to box?

Overall Projection:

Phil Hawes clearly has the physical talent and a quickly growing skill set. He worked with top notch coaches at Jackson MMA and now is working with a cutting edge team in the Blackzilians and Henri Hooft. If Hawes hits on all cylinders he could find himself on the phenom track. His high end looks very much like teammate Rashad Evans. His development curve could end up resembling that of Michael Johnson, also a JUCO Wrestling standout, with a few more ups and downs. Unless Hawes utterly loses focus his low end is that on a powerful, grinding wrestler to be accounted for by all but the most elite fighters.

Stay tuned for the EXTRA! piece on Middleweight and Bantamweight is next! And to look up other articles in this series check out the table below. For comments, questions, or suggestions head down to the comment line or reach out to T.P. and Zane on Twitter: @TP_Grant and @TheZaneSimon

2015 Bloody Elbow Scouting Report

Flyweight Bantamweight Featherweight Lightweight Welterweight
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#1. Duquesnoy
#2. MagomedovTemirov
#3. Froes
#4. Jordan
#5. Motta
#6. Vitruk
#7. Askhabov
#8. Grundy
#9. Matmuratov
#10. Azhiev
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#1. Usman
#2. Mustafaev
#3. Nurmagomedov
#4. Khaliev
#5. Scope
#6. Vartanyan
#7. Kadestam
#8. Piraev
#9. Amosov
#10. Tokov
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Middleweight L. Heayvweight Heavyweight W.Strawweight W. Bantamweight
#1. Hawes
#2. Dzhanaev
#3. Rountree
#4. Jurisic
#5. Piechota
#6. Svirid
#7. Antigulov
#8. Todhunter
#9. Gavrilovic
#10. Nunes
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#1. Mokhnatkin
#2. Martell
#3. Kurbanismailov
#4. Astakhov
#5. Ankalaev
#6. Edilov
#7. Prochazka
#8. Albrektsson
#9. Moore
#10. Gamzatov
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