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.”