Tonight at UFC 152 in Toronto, the person driving the Jimy Hettes bandwagon lost their GPS reception and ended up in some off-hours industrial park. The fast-rising featherweight suffered his first professional defeat at the hands of a much-improved Marcus Brimage, who definitively outstruck Hettes and deflated all his hype with a unanimous decision win.
Hettes is now 10-1 as a pro fighter, and 2-1 in the UFC. Until tonight, only one of Hettes' fights had gone the distance. Until tonight, Hettes used deceptive strength and outstanding throwing and groundfighting techniques to steamroll his adversaries.
The fact that the scrappy judo brown belt, 25 going on 17, looked like the kid next door in the oversized hoodie only enhanced the Hettes narrative.
If he had defeated Brimage tonight, Hettes would have found himself sidling up to the contenders at 145 pounds. Instead, Hettes was exposed in the standup phase by an opponent who consistently and easily beat him to the punch. Hettes has a strong chin, but that should not mean that putting hands up or minding range are optional. Tonight, Hettes fought as if they were, and he had the battered face to prove it.
So what's next for Jimy Hettes?
With such a poor standup showing, it might make sense for the UFC to force him to beat a dedicated striker. Leonard Garcia seems to be available. Judo world champ Michihiro Omigawa loves to brawl. The loser between Mark Hominick and Pablo Garza in November might also be an option.
Hettes may have squandered a perfect record, but he's still a very live talent in the featherweight division. But if he doesn't bring his standup game up to at least respectable levels, he'll have an Achilles' heel that Sasquatch would be proud of.