Two consecutive losses later, fans were just as quick to turn their backs on the MMA newcomer with only three years of experience to his name.
“When I started out, there was a lot of hype [behind me],” Hawes said. “I was going to be the next Jon Jones, a world champion, I was going to be undefeated then go to the UFC but then there was some pitfalls and losses.
“There was one loss where a guy in the crowd, some random dude, said, ‘All hype. Hype train derailed,’ or something like that, so I set out on a course, trying to prove this random dude in the crowd wrong.”
Those losses lit a fire under Hawes, leading him to travel around the world to “beat people’s asses.” Fighting in New York City, India and Slovenia in just a year and a half, Hawes finished three opponents in a row before getting the call to compete on Dana White’s Contender Series for an opportunity to break into the UFC. In just over a minute, Hawes proved that those setbacks early in his career were just lessons on a long path to fighting in the world’s most competitive promotion.