It looks like Chris Curtis’ last-minute weight cut for UFC Fight Night 194 was for naught.
Curtis (26-8 MMA, 0-0 UFC) was set to step in on extreme short-notice for his UFC debut and made weight Friday at 184.5 pounds for a fight against Phil Hawes (11-2 MMA, 3-0 UFC). Curtis was to take the place of Deron Winn (7-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC), who was ruled out of the fight with Hawes for a non-weight cut medical reason.
But in the middle of the official weigh-ins for UFC Fight Night 194 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas – after Curtis made weight, but prior to Hawes stepping on the scale – MMA Junkie confirmed with a person with knowledge of the booking the fight no longer will be part of Saturday’s card. MMA Fighting was first to report the news.
UFC broadcast partner ESPN subsequently reported that Hawes declined the fight against the new opponent.
The bout’s removal leaves UFC on ESPN 194 with nine fights. The original Hawes-Winn fight was set to open the five-fight main card. It is not yet known if the main card will go on with four fights, or if one of the five prelims will move up to the main card – though all will stream on ESPN+.
Curtis, a former CES welterweight champion, posted short videos on his Instagram stories early Friday showing him in the sauna, as well as covered in towels in a weight cut ahead of the official weigh-ins for UFC Fight Night 194.
Curtis, who trains in Las Vegas, had a shot at the UFC in 2018 on Dana White’s Contender Series. But despite a third-round TKO win, he wasn’t awarded a contract. He went on to sign with the PFL, where he went 1-3 in the promotion’s inaugural 2019 season.
But since three straight setbacks in PFL, Curtis is on a five-fight winning streak. Most recently, he outworked former longtime UFC fighter Kenny Robertson for a unanimous decision at XMMA 2 in July.
Hawes has a seven-fight winning streak. He got his UFC shot after a 78-second knockout win on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2020, then knocked out Jacob Malkoun in just 18 seconds in his promotional debut at UFC 254. Since then, he has back-to-back decision wins over Nassourdine Imavov and Kyle Daukaus in 2021.
UFC Fight Night 194 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The card streams on ESPN+.
With the removal, the UFC Fight Night 194 lineup now includes:
MAIN CARD (ESPN+, 4 p.m. ET)
Mackenzie Dern vs. Marina Rodriguez
Randy Brown vs. Jared Gooden
Tim Elliott vs. Matheus Nicolau
Mariya Agapova vs. Sabina Mazo
Felipe Colares vs. Chris Gutierrez
PRELIMINARY CARD (ESPN+, 2 p.m. ET)
Alexandr Romanov vs. Jared Vanderaa
Damon Jackson vs. Charles Rosa
Loopy Godinez vs. Silvana Juarez
Steve Garcia vs. Charlie Ontiveros