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Tonight's UFC card is stacked from top to bottom. Ben Rajavouri breaks down two of his favorite matchups on the night, Phil Hawes versus Deron Winn in the second fight of the night and Joaquin Buckley versus Albert Duraev on the main card.
ANALYSIS

UFC Fight Night Predictions: Phil Hawes, Joaquin Buckley Poised For Massive Night

Tonight's UFC card is stacked from top to bottom, from Roman Dolidze and Kyle Daukaus squaring off in the opening bout to Calvin Kattar and Josh Emmett facing off in a banger of a featherweight matchup. Two of my favorite matchups from a betting perspective tonight are Phil Hawes versus Deron Winn in the second fight of the night and Joaquin Buckley versus Albert Duraev on the main card. I have four total plays that I will briefly break down below. Let's get right into it.

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Phil Hawes vs. Deron Winn Prediction

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Phil Hawes has been a rising and promising prospect for some time now. Hawes took two tries on Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series to break into the UFC, but he immediately proved he belongs, rattling off three-straight wins to start his UFC career. However, he fell in the first round to Chris Curtis in his most recent bout.

Chris Curtis was a tough matchup for Hawes, and he neutralized Hawe's wrestling while also being the more technical striker. However, Deron Winn will present a much less imposing threat to Hawes. Deron Winn is nowhere close to the same level of striker as Curtis, and Hawes will have the edge on the feet this time.

Deron Winn has an awkward frame for a middleweight. He is only 5' 6" and has a 70-inch reach. Winn doesn't need a lengthy frame, though, as he relies almost entirely on his wrestling game to get it done inside the octagon. Winn has averaged 4.98 takedowns per fight in his five bouts across the UFC and Bellator, and it's no surprise that he will be looking for entries left and right in this bout against Hawes.

Winn may not find too much success in that game plan, however. Hawes is no stranger to wrestling himself, and he is a former junior college wrestling champion and former division I wrestler from Iowa State. Hawes is a strong, athletic fighter that can neutralize Winn's wrestling.

Hawes is the far superior striker in this fight and will have a 7.5-inch reach advantage. There's also an element of expectation that plays against Winn's game. Everyone and their mother knows Winn will shoot multiple times and early in this fight. Remember what happened when Derrick Lewis knew Curtis Blaydes was going to shoot multiple times? He put his lights out with an uppercut on Blayde's entry.

Predictability dramatically lowers your chances of success inside the octagon, and against a powerful striker like Hawes, this could end up a repeat of the Lewis/Blaydes fight. I expect Hawes to win early with a big shot.

Phil Hawes vs. Deron Winn Picks

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Joaquin Buckley vs. Albert Duraev Prediction

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This is one of the simplest plays on the card for me today that requires little explanation, and it is also my favorite play. Here it is: Buckley knocks out Duraev in round one, or Duraev submits Buckley in round one, potentially early in round two.

Buckley is one of the hardest hitters in the middleweight division. Five of his last six wins have come by knockout, including a highlight-reel knockout victory over Impa Kasanganay. Duraev has also shown a knack for getting his chin cracked, as all three of his losses as a professional are by knockout. Those knockout losses were also in the regional scene, and none of those fighters were as hard of hitters as Buckley. However, if Buckley doesn't put Duraev's lights out early, he's in trouble.

Albert Duraev is a highly skilled grappler. 9 of Duraev's 15 wins have come by submission, including his first-round submission over Caio Bittencourt in the Contender Series that earned Duraev a contract. Duraev will bring a grappling and submission threat that Buckley has yet to deal with in the UFC, and if this fight hits the mat (which it most likely will), Buckley will be outmatched.

I side slightly towards Buckley landing a knockout shot early in this fight since Duraev has proven to have a shaky chin, and Buckley hits like a truck. However, if Buckley chases the knockout too much, he will tire out quickly, or Duraev will take him down to counter one of Buckley's combos and submit him promptly. I could see both happening, and I like the odds.

Joaquin Buckley vs. Albert Duraev Picks

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Article Author

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Ben Rajavuori is a handicapper out of Minneapolis, MN. He has been creating sports content for almost four years now and is an expert in all things NFL, MLB, NBA, UFC, and NCAAB. Ben thrives on diving deep into statistics to find the best angle on every bet. You can follow him on Twitter @WeBeatTheSpread.

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