Phan entered the TUF household as one of the most experienced fighters on the show, and was nearly able to ride that experience to the finals. Unfortunately for Phan, he came out on the wrong side of a split-decision in the show’s semi-final round. The bout would not mark the last time Phan was hard-done by the judging on a TUF-related event.
Following his run through the TUF house, Phan made his official UFC debut at the finale when he squared off against Leonard Garcia. Phan appeared to control the striking throughout the bout, while Garcia showed a truly shocking level of disdain for any air residing in the general vicinity of Phan, pounding the poor molecules relentlessly with power strikes. Despite the clear edge to Phan, it was sadly unsurprising when the decision came down for Garcia. Phan’s next bout came against former featherweight champ Mike Brown, where Phan again dropped a judge’s call, setting the table for a rematch with Garcia. Despite what were no-doubt some nervous moments after the bout and before cards were read, Phan got vindication in the form of a unanimous decision win.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Phan’s career has spanned more than a decade, and he has the well-rounded skill set which comes with spending such a long time fighting in mixed martial arts. Although Phan has competed in boxing, his grappling is nothing to scoff at and could prove frustrating for Hettes. On the feet, Phan should have a technical edge over Hettes, and has shown a penchant for landing absolutely devastating body shots which can sap his opponent’s will in an instant.
Phan is a solid betting favorite in this bout with good reason, making him a smart play for your fantasy picks. With the ground chops to hang on the mat with Hettes, and the strong edge on the feet, look for Phan to wear down his opponent over the course of the fight. If he can’t keep it standing it will be on Phan to scramble or sweep into top to earn the decision, but with some successful sprawling Phan should wear down Hettes en route to a round two TKO win. On the betting front, Phan is a -255 favorite. While it’s not an appealing line for a straight bet, fantasy riches come with successful investment of your available parlay money, and Phan provides a decent option as a safe add-on to your parlay to up its payoff without a massive risk of killing the parlay.
Hettes is considered one of the brightest grappling-based prospects in the UFC’s lighter weights, having won all of his professional and amateur bouts by way of submission. An unblemished record, with the added bonus of all his bouts being finished, was enough to earn Hettes a call to the UFC when the promotion required a late replacement for the injured Leonard Garcia, allowing Hettes to make his UFC debut at UFC Live: Hardy vs. Lytle this past August.
Strengths and Weaknesses
As you’ve likely figured out by now, Hettes’ strength inside the cage lies in his ground work. Any time you step into the cage with an opponent who has never failed to elicit a tap from his adversary you have to mind your P’s-and-Q’s on the mat and be sure that your positional awareness doesn’t falter for even a second. Unfortunately, Hettes’ debut also seemed to show a fighter who was green and not used to facing fighters who belonged in the cage with him, as he struggled early with Alex Caceres, losing the first round to a fighter who needed three tries and two weight drops to notch his first UFC win. Against a seasoned opponent like Phan who has never been tapped, Hettes may struggle to secure a sub, and his willingness to concede position to attack a submission could be costly.