If you take a gander at Phil Hawes’ Instagram account, you’ll notice nearly all of his posts end with the hashtag, “No Hype.” For a fighter who boasts an 11-2 record with nine finishes to his name, it seems an odd campaign to run, but it’s one that dates back to Hawes’ time before the UFC. Once a 4-0 prospect with plenty of hype, Hawes recalls the response in the crowd after his first fight and took it to heart.
“Some of the guys in the crowd were screaming, ‘All hype. All hype,’” Hawes told UFC.com. “So that’s when I said, ‘Hey, I’m going to show this guy.’ I have no idea who the guy was at the time, but I took it personal, and I just use that as fuel. I’m like, ‘Hey, I’m going to show this guy; I don’t know your name, but I’m going to show you this is no hype.’ From then, I’ve just been going around the world. I’ve been to India, Slovenia, Thailand, just fighting people, beating them up, showing them there’s no hype. I’m the real deal.”
More than a year after earning his contract with a knockout finish on Dana White’s Contender Series, Hawes is well on his way to garnering plenty of hype. He scored an emphatic knockout debut win against Jacob Malkoun at UFC 254. Afterward, he walked up to the cageside camera, looked down the lens and said, “This is mine now,” and he has made good on that proclamation since.
A pair of decision wins over Nassourdine Imavov and Kyle Daukaus have him on the cusp of the Top 15, and beating Deron Winn at UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Rodriguez could be the victory that launches him into even bigger fights.
“Life has changed a little bit, but life is definitely for the better,” Hawes said. “Getting those impressive knockouts really helped my star power, so it feels good. The bank tellers flirt a little bit more. I got a little more corn in the bank, so life is good right now. I’m blessed.”
A slight thorn in Hawes’ side is the fact that after losing to Hawes, Daukaus and Imavov fought ranked opponents, while Hawes is set up against Winn. He understands the fight game is a fickle and bizarre beast, but it still picks at him a little bit.
“It’s a little bizarre, but it’s the fight game,” he said. “It’s not fair sometimes. It’s not going to be fair on Saturday night when I do what I have to do to get a ranked guy. I have to showcase something crazy to get what I deserve, so we’re here now. We’re just going to keep working hard and keep climbing the top of the mountain. You can’t deny what’s undeniable, and I’m here to be the best, and I’m going to show you guys I’m the best.”
Granted, this fight with Winn was scheduled for the summer, but an injury forced Winn out of the original date. A few months later, they get to do the dance, and Hawes isn’t looking past Winn by any means.
“I think he brings a real challenge,” Hawes said. “He’s a tough wrestler, but I’m a tough wrestler, too, so I know he’s going to be tough. I know he’s going to be tough, and I can’t wait to showcase my skills and level up after this fight because when you face adversity, and you come out as a victor, then you just level up.”
For some people, taking negative energy personally is more of a hindrance than anything else. However, it seems like the opposite is true for Hawes. The trolls and the haters of the Internet stoke his fire, and so far, “Megatron” has shown that fire is a lethal one.
When asked what he expects from his second year on the roster, he unsurprisingly anticipates more of the same. Saturday, he aims to go 4-0, and he believes that first number is only going to grow whilst the zero remains. Ultimately, he wants the belt, so any step closer to the top of the middleweight ladder is cause for happiness, but first comes Winn, and Hawes has clear goals in mind.
“I need to put the naysayers to sleep, to put them to bed,” Hawes said. “My cardio is on point. My wrestling, my striking – I’m a complete fighter, and I don’t think people are giving me enough credit saying I’m just a wrestler. I’m a complete fighter. I’m going to showcase that on Saturday.”