When TUF 13 finalists Ramsey Nijem and Tony Ferguson met in the Octagon this past June it appeared to be a classic match-up pitting Ferguson’s fists against Nijem’s grappling. However, a few minutes into the action it appeared the fight’s formula had been changed when the cage door closed, as the 23-year old abandoned his wrestling/submissions for a chance to prove his worth by standing against a superior striker.
The shift in strategy would ultimately cost Nijem the Ultimate Fighter 13 crown, as he was knocked out with about a minute to go in the bout’s opening round, and in the end teach him a lesson he’ll carry with him into the Octagon at UFC 137 when Nijem faces Danny Downes.
“It was definitely a big rookie mistake,” the Utah native revealed in a conversation with the UFC’s website. “I let my pride get in the way instead of sticking to my gameplan. I didn’t play to my strengths. I played into someone else’s strengths. I didn’t even try to take him down once. When we hit the ground, I tried to stand right back to my feet to continue on my feet. I think part of it is that I hit him a couple times and I felt some good connections. I saw I stunned him a little bit, so I got a little fired up. I have a kill switch, which is good sometimes and gets me in trouble other times.”
“I had worked a lot on my standup, but I got caught up in the moment and forgot what got me to the dance,” Nijem continued. “I started reading what people had been saying on the internet that I couldn’t standup with him or I would get knocked out. Leading into the fight, I definitely had a chip on my shoulder and a little bit too much pride.”
It’s a mistake he won’t be repeating against Downes, a Roufusport product many see as one of the up-and-comers to keep an eye on, though Nijem still expects to look for a finish even if his focus will be on putting his opponent’s back on the mat.
“I’m going to be dropping down to 155 and I’m going to be pretty big for 155. I feel like I’m going to have the athletic edge on him: size, strength and explosion. Obviously, I think I’m going to be the better wrestler/grappler. He’s a tough kid, but I watched Jeremy Stephens take him down and manhandle him,” said Nijem of Downes’ loss to “Lil Heathen” earlier this year. “I think I’m a better wrestler than Stephens. That’s obviously the plan going into this fight.”
Nijem holds an overall record of 5-2 including the defeat to Ferguson with a TKO and two submissions to his credit. His bout with Downes can be as part of the UFC 137 preliminary stream being broadcast through Facebook on October 29 starting at approximately 6:00 EST. The event features a main event between B.J. Penn and Nick Diaz with other main card clashes including Cheick Kongo vs. Matt Mitrione and Roy Nelson vs. Mirko Filipovic.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC