I have seen a lot of fighters really early in their career.
I judged Tim Sylvia's first fight. At first he thought his opponent was me. I was glad I wasn't - the opponent ended up in the ambulance with foam coming out of his mouth, and that was with palm strikes only.
I trained with Mike Brown before he ever fought. We touched hands standing, he heel hooked me.
I saw Jon Jones fifth fight. Actually, I missed it, as I looked down, more less.
When you see the ones who are going to be great, you know. I got that feeling Saturday night, but it wasn't an obscure fight in some obscure arena in some obscure place, it was on the main card of UFC 141 in Las Vegas, when Jimy Hettes dominated Nam Phan for three rounds, including two 10-8 rounds on two judges score cards.
I think the undefeated Jimy Hettes is going to great.
It was not his technique that most impressed, although his jiu-jitsu, his striking, and his wrestling all looked nasty. Hettes is at home in the cage - his composure appeared perfect, his nerves taking him exactly where he needs to be
UFC President Dana White noticed Hettes too, as related by MMAJunkie.com. "I'm going to be honest with you," said White after UFC 141. "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."
A lot of extraordinarily talent fighters end up being their worst enemy. That does not appear to be the case with the calm, confident Hettes. "A lot of the stuff online was, 'Why does that kid with no muscle mass get to be on TV?'" Hettes told MMAjunkie.com after the event.
"A lot of people have negativity. 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 [in the UFC]. I just had to show up to fight."
"It's a real surreal experience. 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."
"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 did just that, and more. Only time will tell if he becomes world champion, but he has already done something great - Jimy Hettes epitomizes what is coming next.
It is going to be great.
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