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UFC 254: Jacob Malkoun vs. Phillip Hawes odds, picks and prediction

Joe Williams
Sportsbook Wire

In a middleweight bout on the main card, Jacob Malkoun and Phillip Hawes meet at UFC 254 Saturday at the UFC's Fight Island facility in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The early prelims kick off at 11 a.m. ET on ESPN+, followed by the main card set for 2 p.m. ET on Pay-Per-View.

Malkoun (4-0) makes his UFC debut. The last time we saw him was a unanimous-decision victory over Sebastian Temesi at EMMA: Eternal MMA 48 last October. It has been a mixed bag in his four career professional results, posting a pair of decision wins and two KO/TKO victories. However, the 25-year-old Aussie will easily be facing the most experienced fighter of his short career.

Hawes (8-2) is making his UFC debut, too, but he has had a longer road to get to this point. He won on Dana White's Contender Series: Season 4, Week 6 in a first-round knockout of Khadzhi Bestaev on Sept. 8, 2020. Hawes has four consecutive victories in Round 1 with three knockouts and a submission win, proving he is ready for that next step. The run also includes a flirting with Bellator, as he won his only fight in that promotion with a TKO - doctor's stoppage against Michael Wilcox back on June 14, 2019. "Megatron" has never fought into the third round, and just four of his 10 career fights have lasted into Round 2.

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Jason Malkoun vs. Phillip Hawes betting odds

Odds via BetMGM; access USA TODAY Sports' betting odds for a full list. Lines last updated Friday at 5:17 p.m. ET.

Hawes (-250) is a rather heavy favorite in this battle of UFC newcomers. It's a better idea to get more specific, and taking HAWES BY KO/TKO, DQ or SUBMISSION ( -118) is a good way to go. Just four of his 12 fights have even gone past the first round. While he should get quite a test from Malkoun, UNDER 2.5 ROUNDS ( -189) is a strong wager. Under 1.5 Rounds (-105) is a bit of a risky play, but it might also be worth betting lightly.

In addition, for round betting, I am pinpointing a HAWES IN ROUND 2 ( +450) win for an extra nice payout.

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