Phan has a decade of professional MMA experience. | Photo: Dave
is only 28 years old, but he sees himself as the grizzled veteran
ahead of his UFC
141 bout Friday against Jim “The Kid”
“I’m not that old, but it almost feels like I’m the old dog and
he’s like the new up-and-comer now,” Phan told the Sherdog
Radio Network’s “Savage Dog Show.”
Hettes is in fact a young talent. The 24-year-old debuted in the
Octagon at UFC Live 5 in August, submitting Alex
Caceres with a rear-naked choke. He’s faced eight other
opponents and he submitted all of them too.
“I know very little about him,” Phan said. “… I know his statistics
on Sherdog: 9-0, all submission wins. That says a lot. That means
he’s good at jiu-jitsu. That’s something I’ve got to watch out
Hettes began fighting in regional events in 2009. Phan, in
contrast, has been competing professionally for more than a decade.
Most recently he avenged a controversial split decision loss to
Garcia by earning a unanimous decision in the October rematch.
If Phan had lost that fight, it would have been his third straight
defeat and he might have been cut.
“I can kind of move on with my career and put the whole Leonard
saga behind me now,” he said. “Just fight like a normal fighter.
Still try to put on a good fight, but not [with] the kind of
pressure that I’ve got to fight for my job. There’s a lot of
anxiety when that’s on you.”
Of course, Phan doesn’t believe his performance against Garcia put
him in the position to turn down a bout. That’s why he agreed to a
quick turnaround against Hettes.
“I only fought six weeks ago,” Phan said. “I feel like I need a
little break and maybe fight early next year, but the UFC called me
and told me to fight Jimmy Hettes, and when they call, you’ve got
to take it because you don’t know when’s the next time they’re
going to call you. There’s fighters in the UFC that want to fight,
that can’t get fights. You’ve got to take it when they still want
you to fight for them.”
But now Phan could be in a tough spot. He’s fighting a hungry
up-and-comer he hasn’t been able to research much, and from what
Phan has seen, he considers Hettes “very good.”
“He’s fighting in the UFC for a reason,” Phan said. “I have a lot
of experience against pretty high-level guys. From my experience, I
know not to overlook anyone or underestimate anyone. I just train
for everyone like it’s my last fight.”
Obviously Hettes has a dangerous submission game. Phan isn’t so
sure about his opponent’s standup skills, though.
“It didn’t seem like he’s much of a striker,” Phan said. “… I don’t
need to worry about him trying to knock me out too much. There’s
always a chance, but I think for this guy, I’ve got to be more
aware of the grappling aspect of the fight.”
With that in mind, Phan sounds focused on defending submissions and
keeping the fight on the feet. Against Garcia and others, he’s
proven to be an adept striker, and he’ll look to use those skills
to overwhelm Hettes as well.
“I feel like I’ve got to be like Manny Pacquiao in this fight and
throw a thousand punches,” Phan said. “I’ve just got to keep
putting a beating on this kid.”
Listen to the full
interview (beginning at 1:36:26).