Whether you believe it or not, nerves are at an all-time high for a fighter’s debut in the UFC, and for one Jim Hettes (9-0), it was no different.
The Pennsylvanian’s UFC jitters made him tense up and feel almost as if he wasn’t in the cage. However, at UFC On Versus 5, in a fight Hettes took on short-notice, he managed to rise above the Octagon jitters with a second round rear-naked-choke victory over Alex Cacares.
“I was real excited to be where I was, fighting in the UFC, but I was a little too nervous,” Hettes told MMAWeekly Radio.
“I had that first fight jitters and that mental side and it got to me. Finally, when it got to the second round, I was really happy and I was in a good mental state to just go out there and win the fight.
“You try not to let it get to you, but when you see your name on the megatron and everything like that, it really takes you out by surprise.”
Making his return to the UFC, Hettes has been rewarded by being placed on the pay-per-view portion of UFC 141 against dangerous striker Nam Phan this Friday night.
For the 24-year-old, he believes that just because he has won all of his fights via submission, he can’t follow a specific game plan. He’ll have to play it by ear.
“The scary thing about game plans is that they can go out the door after the first punch. The coaches have been going together and making a game plan, but at the same time, if the game plan goes out the door, I can react to what he’s doing,” said Hettes.
Despite a spotless record through the first nine fights of his career, Hettes knows that Phan is a true test for him. As much confidence as Hettes has after getting his UFC debut jitters out of the way with a win, he knows that at this level of competition there’s only one thing he can count on.
“Anyone that’s seen Nam Phan knows that he’s the real deal. The guy has a ton of heart and it’s the opportunity to have a great fight and that’s all you could really ask for in this business.”