The first preliminary fight on FX will feature featherweights who are a combined 4-0 in the UFC, as former Ultimate Fighter contestant Marcus Brimage will take on the undefeated Jim Hettes.
Striking: This is all Brimage, a fighter who doesn’t want to do anything except strike. Brimage has solid boxing, good leg kicks, and hard knees. He’s a relatively short fighter, which can be a slight disadvantage, but Brimage usually has little trouble getting inside and landing strikes on his opponents. By contrast, Hettes does not want to strike at all. Hettes isn’t a terrible striker, but he just doesn’t do it very much. From the little I’ve seen, he has a few kicks and punches in his arsenal, but very little power behind them. The longer this fight is standing, the better it is for Brimage.
Wrestling: Brimage was taken down repeatedly by Bryan Caraway on The Ultimate Fighter, but has yet to be taken down in a professional UFC fight. He has a very good sprawl, aided by his relatively short, stocky frame. But he might have a tough time keeping Hettes from taking him to the ground in this one, as Hettes has a judo base, and is likely to go for trips, throws, and foot sweeps. Hettes rarely wastes time going for takedowns: he has attempted 29 and landed 16 in about 23 minutes of fighting in the UFC thus far. Brimage has better takedown defense than either Alex Caceres or Nam Phan (the last two Hettes opponents), but chances are high that Hettes will succeed in getting the fight to the ground.
Submissions: This is a huge advantage for Hettes, who has nine wins by submission in ten fights. The only man to fight Hettes and not be submitted is Nam Phan, who is very experienced and has solid submission defense. The same can’t be said for Marcus Brimage, who has shown a clear disdain for the ground game in the past, and who was badly out-grappled by Caraway in particular. Go on YouTube and you’ll find all sorts of videos of Hettes demonstrating submissions and transitions on the ground. If Hettes gets this fight to the ground, it could be over quickly.
Prediction: Jim Hettes by submission. The gap between Hettes’s skill on the ground and Brimage’s skill is too wide to make any other prediction. I feel that the moment Hettes can get Brimage down, Brimage will be in huge trouble, as Hettes is just the far superior submission fighter. A Brimage TKO is a possibility, especially if I’m wrong about how successful Hettes will be in landing a takedown, but from what I’ve seen of each fighter, I have to favor Hettes in this one.