8 lessons from the best Jiu-Jitsu fighter at UFC 141

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If you’re an MMA fan, you surely watched the frolic the young featherweight  Jimy “The Kid” Hettes (Almeida BJJ) had in the octagon against deft-fisted Californian Nam Phan. If you’re a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and didn’t see it, you missed a heck of a lesson.

It was the opening fight for the UFC 141 main card in Las Vegas. Jimy, 24 years old and the bearer of one of the most deceivingly innocent faces in the world, seamlessly moved between striking and a mind-boggling series of takedowns (ouchi gari, kouchi gari, harai goshi). On the ground, he put the hapless Phan through the wringer and routed him with a unanimous decision win. Undefeated with ten wins in as many pro fights, it was the first time he didn’t finish his opponent.

What can you learn from this up-and-coming star to apply to your daily training—and everyday life? GRACIEMAG.com put together a list of eight lessons for you:

Jim Hettes: Jiu-Jitsu de gente grande no UFC 141.

Jim Hettes: wielding grown up Jiu-Jitsu at UFC 141

1: DON’T AVOID TRAINING WITH THE TOUGHEST GUYS AT THE GYM

From white belt on, learn that systematically dribbling the tough sparring partners means putting a hold on progress. Take on the guy who makes you work the most. “For this fight I trained by alternating between Frankie Edgar and Tom DeBlass, really tough guys. I train with fully rested guys every five minutes,and they’re not just average guys, not to mention they’re much heavier than me. When I do face a featherweight it feels like I’m even breaking the law,” remarked Jimy in an interview followingUFC 141.

2. TEST YOUR JIU-JITSU THE WHOLE TIME

When you find yourself in a new situation, be thankful: it enhances your self-awareness, shoots your Jiu-Jitsu knowledge through the roof. That’s what The Kid ascertained in his first decision win. “I’d never even fought a third round. It was good as a test, since I got a taste of that awful cardiorespiratory feeling of fighting after the second round,” said the Ricardo Cachorrão student in jest.

3. HEED NOT YOUR JIU-JITSU BELT COLOR

Himself a purple belt, Jimy lay a beating on a black belt last Friday. Asked whether he feels he deserves a darker belt, he wisely replied: “I love Jiu-Jitsu first of all because it saves me from getting beat up, so it doesn’t matter what color my belt is today, I’m just grateful,” to later add, “I’m just having fun.”

4. THE ONE WHO NEEDS TO TRUST YOU IS YOU

Jimy—half joking half serious—told of how a Nevada Athletic Commission official nearly barred him from fighting, thinking he wasn’t yet 18 years of age. “When I’m behind the scenes at the UFC, the other fighters still look at me with surprise, as though someone had left their son behind there,” he said. The looks of surprise and puzzlement don’t intimidate someone with the heart of a fighter.

5. THE FIGHTER-COACH RELATIONSHIP IS KEY

“In my first UFC fight, [coach and friend] Kris McCray was yelling, ‘Let’s go! You look like a girl under there!’ Later we had a talk about it, and I asked him if he could say something positive… He was a lot more optimistic this second fight, but what matters is that he knows how to motivate me when I’m fighting,” said Jimy. What about you, are you good at listening to your trainer? Does what he says motivate you?

6. LEARN TO GET A SENSE OF WHERE THE FIGHT IS GOING

Jimy hadn’t found out what a judge is for ever since amateur MMA, a total of 13 fights. Until encountering Nam Phan. “In the first round I gave my all to put him away. But I looked in Nam Phan’s eyes and saw there was no quit in him. So I realized it was time to conserve energy for rounds 2 and 3. Now I just have to thank my coach for making me cry every day in training.”

7. HAVE FAITH IN YOUR GAME

The combination of Jiu-Jitsu and judo has worked for decades, at all the world’s grappling tournaments, for a reason. Have faith in your style of fighting when the going gets rough.

8. KEEP AN ACE UP YOUR SLEEVE

If none of the aforementioned pointers work, pull this acrobatic finish out of your hat. It even works in tennis! Compliments of Jimy Hettes.

Can you remember any other good lesson from The Kid? Comment below.

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