The old classic Friday Night Fights aura surrounds the December 30 date for UFC 141 and rounds out the promotion’s year rather nicely. Perhaps the most dangerous heavyweight striker in all of MMA, former Strikeforce, DREAM, and K-1 Heavyweight Champion “The Demolition Man” Alistair Overeem (34-11), steps into the Octagon tp begin his long awaited UFC career. In his way of a shot at UFC gold though is the villainous former UFC heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar (5-2). Red hot former WEC title contender “The Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (16-4) and Nate Diaz (13-8) of Cesar Gracie tutelage will bring their heated encounter from months before to the surface as they face off in the co-main event. Top-ranked welterweight Jon Fitch (22-3) returns since his lackluster Draw against former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion BJ Penn (16-8) to face heavy-handed WEC veteran Johny Hendricks (11-1). Exciting young fighter Alexander Gustafsson (12-1) has yet to go past the second round in his UFC career but his toughest test to date will tower in front of him in the form of long-time UFC veteran “The Janitor” Vladimir Matyushenko (26-5) who has looked better than ever with two knockout wins supporting him going into this match-up. Starting off the UFC 141 main card is undefeated “The Kid” Jimy Hettis (9-0) who has submitted all of his opponents – six in the first round and three in the second, teeing off against the tough and relentless Nam Phan (19-10), who recently made UFC history for his rock ‘em sock ‘em battle with “Bad Boy” Leonard Garcia (15-8). Both men are guaranteed a tough fight in each other, and it is one that surely will serve as an entertaining opener to the Pay-Per-View card.
At First Glance: Undefeated Jiu-Jitsu aficionado Jimy Hettes and UFC, King of the Cage, Strikeforce, and Sengoku fighter Nam Phan will meet in a rising star versus seasoned veteran match-up. Experience through hard knocks and young talent with a lot of room to grow, this fight will either be a breakthrough for one or a downfall for the other. With Phan’s back just recently off the wall by picking up his first UFC win over rival Leonard Garcia at UFC 136 and Hettis coming off an impressive debut at UFC on Versus 5 over Alex Caceras (7-5), the featherweight division is a ocean full of big fish and only one man will dive into the deeper waters of the division.
In Depth: TUF alum Nam Phan is coming off three quite literally hard-fought battles against two of the hardest hitters in the 145lb division, Leonard Garcia and former WEC champion “MTB” Mike Brown (21-8), of which he went 1-2 in the slug fests. Hettis is undefeated in all nine of his pro bouts that saw him submit each one of his opponents and his longest fight last only until the 3:58 mark of the second round. Hettis has a ground game that uses the three choke holds as his closing move, but he also as an Armbar and Heel Hook victory to his name, respectively. Phan has finished opponents both by strikes and by submission but also has a handful of trips to the judges on his record. Furthermore, his chin and ability to stay awake during received bombs is unquestionable. If Phan can stay on the outside and control the exchanges he will make it a long night for his opponent. As much as it is advised that Phan keep the fight standing, it is key for Hettes to take it to the mat. Phan coming in to the pocket in attempt to finish off the young prospect affords Hettes an ideal opportunity to drag the TUF alum to the canvas where he then may lock in one of his well-rehearsed chokes and put an end to the fight. With the ground game favoring Hettis and the striking game favoring Phan it’s the clash of polar opposites that ultimately could go either way, and will largely depend on the quickness of Hettis and the accurate strikes of Phan to start the pace for one’s path to victory. Phan needs another win to be considered a possible contender in the 145lbs. class and not just a gatekeeper for debuting fighters; Hettis needs to keep his unblemished record in tact or at the very least put on an impressive performance in order to move up in the ranks of the UFC.
Wild Card: Phan is game to stand and bang or take the fight to the mat and roll with his opponent, though his preferred and arguably more effective method is through stand-up. If he can mix up his strikes and pepper the legs of Hettis early on, he may batter and slow down the Jiu-Jitsu takedowns of Hettis. Hettis can’t shoot for a proper takedown if his legs are beaten up and can’t see if his eyes are swollen. Hettis’ chin is also a question of its own, and it’s one that likely will be answered in this fight. If Phan can land a winged hook or well timed uppercut it could be lights out for the young prospect.
The Verdict: Hettis may be a new face to the UFC main card but he didn’t get here by politics and being buddies with the right people – he earned his way to the spotlight of the UFC main bouts and also earned the opponent that stands across from him that has more than double his number of fights. Expect Hettis to use every trick in the book to get Phan to the mat, take whatever Phan gives him, and even create openings of his own to get Phan to fall into his game of Jiu-Jitsu. Hettis via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2