With momentum on his side after a controversial split-decision defeat to Leonard Garcia in December of 2010, the snowball of impetus that Nam Phan was building could have grown into an avalanche with a victory over Mike Brown this past Saturday at UFC 133.
The former Ultimate Fighter 12 semifinalist Phan faced his toughest challenge to date as he lost a unanimous decision victory against the former WEC featherweight champion in Brown.
Brown, a solid wrestler with tremendous power executed a brilliant fight strategy from the opening bell taking the dynamic Phan to the ground within minutes of touching gloves.
Taking Phan's back, Brown delivered successive clean punches to the head of Phan bloodying the karate black belt and setting the stage for a decisive victory for Brown.
Phan began to establish intermittent offense in the second round landing a variety of hooks and straight punches and attempting to minimize any successful take-downs by his opposition.
Realizing that he was down two rounds in the judges' eyes, Phan entered Round 3 with a wave of desperation attempting to finish the fight with one punch.
Unsuccessful in finishing Brown, Phan's performance showed glimmers of improvement, yet was not enough to award him the victory.
With two back-to-back losses to both Leonard Garcia and Mike Brown, where does Nam Phan go from here?
Known for his stand-up game and his aggressive nature, Phan needs to balance out his skill-set and work on defending the take-down with more consistency.
The UFC featherweight division is strong with grapplers. Phan's obvious weakness in keeping the fight standing will continue to be exposed if he does not sew up this glaring deficiency.
Additionally, Phan not only possesses a black belt in karate, but a black belt in jiu-jitsu as well. He does not utilize this asset because of his propensity to stand and trade in the center of the Octagon.
However, a fighter should capitalize on all their weapons. A lesson that Nam Phan needs to learn.
A third straight defeat in the UFC will award Phan a pink slip and his walking papers. If Phan can work on his weaknesses and improve on his strengths, he will once again become relevant within this deep UFC featherweight division.
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