Jimy Hettes tosses Nam Phan with ease. Photo by Esther Lin of MMA Fighting.
UFC 152 begins the FX fracas with a variety of action from featherweight, welterweight, lightweight, to light heavyweight. In Part 1 of our prelim preview, we'll look at the FW and WW fights in particular, which pit Jimy Hettes versus Marcus Brimage, and Sean Pierson versus Lance Benoist.
For Hettes and Brimage, both are coming off impressive victories (impressive on paper in Brimage's case). Hettes scored a dominating victory over the reliable Nam Phan, dominating with savvy clinchwork, and a superior ground game. Meanwhile, Marcus Brimage floundered his way into victory against a surprisingly timid Maximo Blanco.
The victor in this fight will likely get a very nice, high profile fight at FW, so there's enough to the line to warrant any fan's interest in watching these two scrap. Let's break it down.
Jimy Hettes 10-0 vs. Marcus Brimage 5-1
To be perfectly honest, I doubted Hettes against Phan. I felt like he looked sloppy against Alex Caceres, who has since shed his "how the hell did that guy get a job in the UFC?" image, and become very respectable. What a surprise when Hettes dominated, taking down Phan with regularity with some good ole' fashioned judo. Phan was able to defend Mike Brown's wrestling prowess, so needless to say, I was impressed.
How does he fare here?
Brimage could be trouble on the feet, where Hettes is still fairly green. Marcus, professing to take cues from Dragonball Z, could use one of those fireballs that take several birth cycles to project, from said show. I swear I don't speak from experience as a regular viewer during the Frieza saga.
Even though Marcus has the faster hands, he'll be at a severe reach advantage. It's hard to read much from his Blanco win. There simply wasn't much action (so perhaps he really does take cues from DBZ). Brimage would dip his head and wade in with a quick combination, and Blanco would counter with a kick 3 minutes later. He'll have the faster hands, but this fight will be about whether or not Brimage can avoid the takedown, and the subsequent submission.
I don't expect that to be the case. Brimage likes to stay low when he strikes, and darts in, which puts him in perfect position for Hettes to clinch, and score a takedown from there. It'll be easy enough just by virtue of having more reach. Even if Brimage could stick and move, Hettes has proven to be tactical in initiating the clinch himself.
My prediction: Jimy Hettes by Submission.
Sean Pierson 12-6 vs. Lance Benoist 6-1
When Pierson burst onto the UFC scene, despite being dominant in victory, it was Matt Riddle's Billy Blanks impression that ended up being the lasting image of their bout. He's proven to be a reliable journeyman since, getting blasted by Jake Ellenberger, and nearly front kicked into dreamland by Dong-Hyun Kim, but always tough, and resolute. His victory over Jake Hecht was a bit meandering, but we know what we're getting when Pierson fights.
Benoist proved to be scrappy in his debut against Matt Riddle, and then, like Pierson, meandered his way through what could have been a victory against Seth Baczynski. It was a close fight that had its moments, but was also a bit bizarre.
For Lance, he's gotta do what he does best: get the fight to the ground. Benoist is a grinder with bits of flash every now and then. I doubt Pierson will be able to stop the takedowns or the scrambles, which is why I feel like this scrap is easy pickings. Pierson can obviously box, but his power hasn't translated into the UFC, and I don't expect it to here. Expect some give and take, however.
My prediction: Lance Benoist by Decision.