PART 1: MMA’S TOP 25-AND-YOUNGER FIGHTERSThis weekend’s UFC interim bantamweight title fight at London’s Wembley Arena is a rare contest: Titleholder Renan Barao (29-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC), 25, and challenger Michael McDonald (15-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC), 22, combine for the most youthful title fight in UFC history.Fighting is a young man’s game, so MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) has compiled the top 25 MMA fighters who are 25 years old and younger.
This is the first of a three-part series that runs throughout the week.
20. Jim Hettes (10-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC)
In winning efforts, Jim Hettes finished all of his opponents except Nam Phan. Against the well-traveled veteran, Hettes splashed onto the UFC scene with a judo and jiu-jitsu grappling display that shut down Phan for 15 minutes. The 25-year-old Midwesterner fought only once in 2012, and he suffered his first career defeat, to fellow promising 145-pound prospect Marcus Brimage. Hettes’ potent grappling certainly will continue to trouble featherweights while his overall game catches up.
The Work Never Stops for Young Gun Jimy Hettes
By Jordan Newmark September 16, 2012“I don’t know if it is going to be on the feet or if it is going to be on the mat, but he likes to keep a high pace and so do I, so it’s not going to be a boring fight to watch.” – Jimy HettesUFC featherweight Jimy Hettes
The judges’ unanimous decision read 30-25, 30-25, and 30-26.
It’s very rare that a UFC fighter walks away from a winning performance filled with 10-8 score cards in their favor like that and thinks to himself, “I need to get better”. It’s quasi-understandable that this particular combatant was disappointed in hearing the judges’ input at all, considering all previous nine bouts of Jimy Hettes’ young career were each won by submission well before time had expired. For the featherweight dubbed by some “Judo Jim” and by others “The Kid”, every Octagon appearance is a learning experience, even the ones he dominates.
“I was definitely humble in the victory,” tells Hettes. “Just because at this caliber of opponents, you are going to take the win however you can get it. A lot of the people are saying all the stuff I did good or correct, but I’ve watched the fight a couple times and there are a lot of times that I was sloppy. I’m grateful for that because it showed me what I need to go back and work on to step my game up to another level.”
At 25 years old and 2-0 in the UFC, the pride of Kingston, Pennsylvania is simply not satisfied with his one-sided drubbing of The Ultimate Fighter season 12 alum Nam Phan at UFC 141 last December. Entering into his UFC debut five months earlier, Hettes was undefeated, hadn’t seen a third round, and was racking up sub victories left and right, including armbars, heel hooks, and anything ending in “choke”. Hettes’ first time in the Octagon was on Facebook, on the undercard of the UFC Live event in Milwaukee against another TUFer, Alex Caceres, which had a familiar ending for “The Kid” in the form of a win by rear naked choke in the second. While all fights in the UFC entail pressure, Hettes’ next bout was against the well-traveled Phan and was on the big stage of a pay-per-view.
“I tried not to over think the whole situation,” reveals Hettes. “It was my first time on pay-per-view. I just tried to simplify everything and keep telling myself it was just another fight. Nam, he has a reputation of being a real tough individual. He has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and he has boxing experience. In my head, I tried to tell myself it was just another fight. It was against a tough opponent, but I had prepared for Nam and I didn’t want to over-hype him in my own head. Just let my body do what had to be done that night. My first time against Alex Caceres, I felt real nervous. The second time when I fought Nam, I felt more at home and more relaxed. I didn’t think about it too much and it felt like another practice and everything just flowed.”
The long and short of this matchup was Hettes’ relentless takedowns (scoring 11 of 20), guard passes (9), and a never ending barrage of ground and pound (close to 300 strikes thrown) for all 15 minutes. “No matter what round it is, I try to put the forward pressure on and keep implementing my game,” says Hettes, who believes the bout is a testament to Phan’s toughness and never give up spirit that he made the prospect continue to work for all three rounds. “Nam had such good boxing, and the whole training camp it was in my head if I let up for any one moment one of his punches could make it a real short night. When it came time to fight, I just knew that I couldn’t give him the opportunity to really get his punches going or get into a rhythm. There were plenty of times he could have given up or taken the easy way out, but he made me earn every second of that.”
In June 2010, we posted a list of the ten greatest fighters who had yet to take a loss. By November 2011, none of their perfect records were still intact, proving once again what a cruel bitch this sport is. Half of the fighters on our original list — Shane Carwin (#1), Megumi Fujii (#2), Ryan Bader (#6), Evan Dunham (#7), and Lyle Beerbohm (#10) — have even lost *twice* since then. So we decided to start over from scratch and come up with a new ranking of undefeated MMA fighters. Check it out, and let us know who you think will hold onto their ’0′ the longest. -BG
#9: JIMY HETTES (10-0, nine wins by submission)
Notable victories: Jacob Kirwan at MASS: Inauguration (sub R2), Alex Caceres at UFC Live: Hardy vs. Lytle (sub R2), Nam Phan at UFC 141 (UD).
We don’t like to toss around the word “prodigy” unless it’s truly warranted, but honestly, Jimy Hettes is the Little Man Tate of grappling. At just 24 years old, the Pennsylvania native is already an expert, innovator, and educator of the ground game, and submitted his first nine MMA opponents with shocking ease. The only guy he wasn’t able to finish was Nam Phan in his last UFC appearance, and even then, the thrashing he gave Phan was so lopsided that two judges scored the fight 30-25. We can’t wait to see Jimy’s run in the UFC featherweight division continue once he’s healthy again.
Promotion officials announced the featherweight pairing on Friday. The Sept. 22 card features a 170-pound clash pitting former two-division champion B.J. Penn against rising prospect Rory MacDonald. UFC 152 was originally expected to be headlined by a heavyweight tilt between Junior dos Santosand Cain Velasquez, but UFC President Dana White has since said that the title bout will likely be contested at a different date.
Unbeaten in 10 professional appearances, Hettes made his Octagon debut this past August, submitting Alex Caceres with a rear-naked choke in the second round at UFC Live 5. He followed that performance with a unanimous decision triumph over Nam Phan at UFC 141, a dominant effort that resulted in a pair of 30-25 scorecards in favor of the Pennsylvania native. Hettes was supposed to face Steven Siler at UFC on FX 4 last month, but the 25-year-old judo specialist was forced to withdraw from the bout due to injury.
An alumnus of Season 14 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Brimage has also emerged victorious in his first two UFC outings. “The Bama Beast” defeated Stephen Bass via unanimous decision at the “TUF 14” Finale in December before earning a split verdict over Maximo Blanco at UFC 145. The American Top Team representative has tasted defeat just once in six fights, a submission loss to Joey Camacho in 2008.
by Dann Stupp and John Morgan on Dec 31, 2011 at 5:25 pm ETLAS VEGAS – With a lopsided unanimous-decision victory over Nam Phan at Friday’s UFC 141 event, Jimy Hettes cemented his spot in the UFC’s featherweight division.But despite an undefeated record of and a string of submission wins, he knew what fans were thinking about such an unlikely main-card fighter.”A lot of the stuff online was, ‘Why does that kid with no muscle mass get to be on TV?’” Hettes told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) after the event.Hettes (10-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) and Phan (17-10 MMA, 1-3 UFC) kicked off the pay-per-view main card of UFC 141, which took place at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena. Hettes, who opened his career with 11 consecutive submission victories, didn’t get a stoppage, but he beat down Phan to the tune of lopsided 30-25, 30-25 and 30-26 scores.That pre-fight hate from fans? It doesn’t bother him.
“A lot of people have negativity,” he said. “I just like to be around positive people, and luckily, the people I surround myself know what I’m capable of. There was never any doubt I belonged [here in the UFC]. I just had to show up to fight.”
The 24-year-old was grinding away on Pennsylvania’s regional circuit just a few months ago. But following a UFC on Versus 5 submission win over Alex Caceres and the decision victory over Phan, he hasn’t lost a step.
Still, the whole thing is a bit hard to believe for the youngster.
“It’s a real surreal experience,” he said. “I got to be in the same locker room as great fighters. I got to look over and see Alistair Overeem hitting pads, and I got a bear hug from Tito Ortiz after I won. Little things like that make you appreciate the hard work. It’s what motivates me to get up even earlier for the next fight and train even harder.”
Hettes no doubt silenced the doubters on Friday. Phan, a big-show veteran who earned a semifinal-round finish on “The Ultimate Fighter 12,” was no match for the plucky Pennsylvanian.
He simply had to pace himself.
“I was giving him all I could,” he said of Phan. “All that went through my head was watching Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin’s fight, and the last thing I wanted to do was gas out and have Nam get top position or possibly end the fight
“I knew I was trying and going forward, but at the same time, I wanted to leave a little something in the gas tank.”
Hettes made a number of fans with his latest performance. Chief among his new supporters? UFC president Dana White.
“I’m going to be honest with you,” he said after the show. “Tonight is the first night I really noticed this kid. It’s pretty awesome to see a jiu-jitsu kid who punches and when something doesn’t work, he moves somewhere else.
“You guys have heard me talk a lot about the new breed that’s coming up and how they train differently. There you go. He’s one of them. That kid is nasty. I love watching him fight. Tonight was fun watching him perform. Once he gets more comfortable here and starts to feel like this is home and his place, that kid’s going to be putting on some shows.”
LAS VEGAS – No one doubted Jim Hettes’ skills, but many openly questioned whether he could show the same promise against proven big-show talent.
Those doubters likely will be silenced following the youngster’s dominant unanimous-decision victory over veteran featherweight and “The Ultimate Fighter 12″ semifinalist Nam Phan.
The fight kicked off the pay-per-view main card of UFC 141 and followed prelims on Facebook and Spike TV. It took place at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Quite simply, the fight was all Hettes.
The 24-year-old jumped out to an early lead after slamming Phan to the mat and then dazing him with a dizzying barrage of punches from the top. Phan attempted to escape, but each time he created distance, Hettes poured on the punishment. Halfway through the round, though, Phan got to his feet, reset and regained his composure. The reprieve was short-lived, though. Hettes took him back to the mat and unloaded a barrage of punches to the head and body before trying an armbar that was cut short by the end of the round.
Badly bloodied from the lopsided first round, Phan was taken to the mat again early in the second. The onslaught then continued, and Phan took more heavy shots. He escaped to his feet a few times, but Hettes quickly closed the distance and continually put himself in dominant positions.
The third round offered little new. Hettes dominated the action from the top and continually poured on punishment with punches and elbows between submission attempts. Phan survived for the final horn, but he took a beating in the process.
In the end, the judges scored the lopsided fight 30-25, 30-25 and 30-26 for Hettes.
Hettes (10-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) keeps his perfect record intact but fails to stop a fight via submission for the first time in his two-and-a-half-year career. Phan (17-10 MMA, 1-3 UFC), meanwhile, falls to 2-5 in his past seven fights.
Up-to-the-fight UFC 141 results include:
Jim Hettes def. Nam Phan via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-26)
Ross Pearson def. Junior Assuncao via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Danny Castillo def. Anthony Njokuani via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Dong Hyun Kim def. Sean Pierson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Jacob Volkmann def. Efrain Escudero via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Diego Nunes def. Manny Gamburyan via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
UFC 141 Press Conference: Featuring Jimy “The Kid” Hettes