When Bruce Buffer announced the verdict for Nam Phan’s match against Leonard Garcia at UFC 136, Phan was admittedly feeling uneasy in the center of the Octagon. “I was very scared,” Phan, 28, recently admitted to Bleacher Report. “I was worried about my job, definitely.” Perhaps, as those familiar with the UFC’s past practices will argue, Phan had good reason to be a bit anxious.
Two months prior to that moment, Phan dropped a three-round unanimous decision to Mike Brown at UFC 133. Before that, Phan—in one of the most controversial decisions of recent memory—lost an extremely close split decision to Leonard Garcia in late-2010. “I was kind of worried that they might not give me the decision,” Phan recalled. “I was just crossing my fingers.” Fortunately for Phan—and his crossed fingers—the judges unanimously declared him the match’s victor. According to Phan, it was one of the best moments of his young life. “I felt like my head was going to explode,” Phan said with a laugh. “When I beat Leonard Garcia, I didn’t sleep all night—I stayed up the whole night! It felt great. It was like prom night, again…There’s really nothing that’s that exciting.”
Moving forward, Phan—not surprisingly—is determined to once again have his hand raised in the Octagon. Phan’s next opportunity to pick up a victory on the biggest stage of the sport is to come at UFC 141 on Dec. 30, when the former The Ultimate Fighter contender is to take on Jim Hettes. Hettes, who is to make his second appearance in the Octagon, has recorded nine submission victories in his first nine outings as a professional mixed martial artist. Most recently, Hettes, 24, claimed a second-round rear-naked choke victory over Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres in August.
Despite Hettes’ long list of submission wins, Phan, who made his professional mixed martial arts debut more than a decade ago, is confident that a victory to cap off 2011 is within his reach. Or, as per his philosophy as an athlete—“confident mind, humble words,” he told Bleacher Report earlier this year—he emphasized that he will do everything he can to have his hand raised. Looking past Phan’s match against Hettes on the 30th, the California product is hoping to once again—again, not surprisingly—experience the thrill of victory a few more times in the UFC’s Octagon in 2012. “Anytime you win in the UFC is amazing,” Phan explained. “I can’t describe how good it feels…It’s an amazing feeling.” “I always try to keep the losing to a minimum,” he said with a laugh. “I just hope (2012 holds) more wins. I’m going to do my best for every fight.”