After Ramsey Nijem entertained his housemates—and viewers—with his antics on this week’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Lesnar vs. Team Dos Santos, it might have come as a surprise when the Utah native tore through Charlie Raderman in this week’s fight.
However, if you’ve been paying close attention, Nijem’s dominance shouldn’t have come as a surprise at all.
Nijem is a longtime friend and training partner of TUF 11 winner Court McGee, and that relationship has given him access to some of the best training available. When McGee went out to San Luis Obispo, California to train at the Pit, Nijem came with him. When McGee went to help Jake Shields train for his upcoming UFC Welterweight Championship bout against Georges St-Pierre at UFC 129, Nijem was there as well (you might have even caught a brief mention of Nijem when Shields spoke to Joe Rogan during last month’s UFC Fight Night.)
Nijem took time recently to talk with UltimateFighter.com and Bleacher Report about his training, his fight with Raderman and next week’s championship bout.
For starters, the burning question after everyone saw this week’s episode: Are you all caught up on Glee?
I actually am. That’s what I did when I got back. I made sure to catch up, and now I’m making sure to stay up on it so I don’t fall behind.
I used to watch it, and then I just stopped. I saw the episode after the Super Bowl, after I hadn’t been watching for a while, and I decided it wasn’t really entertaining me that much anymore.
It just keeps getting better and better to me.
It was interesting seeing the way guys responded to that and some of your other antics in the house. Did you have a strategy going into the house in terms of how you were going to interact with the guys?
You know, that’s what a lot of people think, but not really. I was just myself. That’s how I interact with everybody. It doesn’t matter what situation I’m in. I owe that to myself. I’m not one of these people that’s going to act different because I’m on TV or try to impress certain people or have any strategy where I’m going to go in there and make people underestimate me. That was just me being me. I know it came off that way, that I was just trying to fool everybody.
How much of your take on the show going in was influenced by watching Court McGee when he was on the show, or anything that he told you about the show?
I was with Court before he went on the show, after he came home and ever since then. He gave me a lot of insight and helped me get ready. He was real excited for me and he felt like it was deserving for me to go and get on the show. He gave me a bunch of advice, like don’t let anyone stress you out, be yourself and just go out there and fight your hardest every fight. That’s what I did. A lot of people think I’m acting, but that’s just who I am.
It’s kind of a funny thing. People wouldn’t necessarily think the two of you would be good friends. We didn’t see a lot of Court when he wasn’t fighting. It was either an episode where he was fighting, or we didn’t really see him. You, on the other hand, definitely entertained.
Me and Court are real good friends. We hang out. Obviously, we’re two very different people, but he thinks I’m funny, and he laughs at me. Court has a dry sense of humor, so it’s not really funny on TV, but it’s funny when we hang out. He’s a pretty lighthearted dude, but he’s real serious when it comes to…well, almost anything. We get along real good.
And that led to your going with him when he went to help Jake Shields train for his fight at UFC 129. Tell me a bit about that experience.
It was awesome to go out there and train with Jake Shields and see the ins and outs of his training. You learn why he’s the No. 1 contender in the world, because he’s one of the hardest-working men alive. He’s non-stop, he’s tough in every aspect of fighting, and I got to spar with him a lot throughout his training, and it was a good experience, to be able to go with the top welterweight in the world.
You’re saying the top welterweight in the world. So you think he’s going to win next Saturday?
I went and put money down on Jake, so I believe he’s going to win. After getting to know him better and training with him, and seeing his strength and how good he really is, I felt he’s the better of the two. He’s a dangerous fighter for GSP. He can submit him at any point in that fight, or he can take control and he won’t gas. He won’t get knocked out or submitted, so he’s a dangerous fighter for GSP.
You say he could submit GSP at any point, and Jake said on the conference call, and not to take too much more time talking about that fight, but when he talked about his grappling being on a different level than the guys whom Georges has fought before, it felt like someone should have reminded him that that group includes Matt Serra, BJ Penn and Jon Fitch and those guys. What is it that makes you think Jake can submit Georges where those guys weren’t able to?
Jake’s a big welterweight, and I think that’s going to be a big advantage. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a big GSP fan, too. I think the man’s an amazing athlete and an amazing fighter and works his butt off and deserves all his success. But Jake works hard and deserves all his success too. On the ground, Jake’s big and strong. Serra’s not the biggest dude. BJ Penn winds up being a decent-sized lightweight, and Jake Shields is easily a 185er, and he’s cutting down to 170. He’s bigger, stronger and more experience. He’s been grappling and fighting a lot longer than most people realize. GSP’s a great stand-up fighter, with his karate background, but on the ground, Jake, he’s just unreal.
Well, moving from that fight to your fight, Brock had said in the recap that Brock knew that fight was over the second you got in the cage, when there was a look in your eyes that Charlie didn’t have in his. Did you get that sense too?
Yeah. Once the fight started, I came forward and Charlie moved back, and I knew from then on that the fight was in my hands. From there, the game plan was to put him on the fence and make him wrestle me, because I knew he wasn’t a technical wrestler. I was not using very much energy while he was trying to use a lot more energy just to work for underhooks. Eventually, I knew he’d be worn out and then I’d take him down. Technique saves energy. That was the game plan.
The other thing that people are bound to be talking about coming out of that episode was how quick Charlie tapped after you got the rear naked choke on him. Were you surprised by how quick he tapped?
Well, yeah. Obviously, it was a really fast tap, and I was shocked. I had both my legs in, and he was flattened out, worn out, tired, and the choke was in really deep. I had already had my arm in there, kind of choking him, and then, once I sink it in, he’s already been choked for a little bit, because one arm can cut off some air, and then, once I sink in the full rear naked, I knew it was over. Him tapping, whether it was that fast or he waited another three or four seconds, it was going to happen. I felt kind of bad that he gassed so early, because everyone’s questioning his heart and stuff. I like Charlie. At that point, the fight was over.
What’s your reaction like when you see Brock throw the stool in the Octagon after that win? Is it a good feeling to know that you’ve pissed Brock off that much, or that you led Charlie to piss him off that much?
To be honest, I didn’t even notice that he’d thrown it. I was just so enthralled at the victory. Obviously, he’s frustrated, and I’ve been in that situation coaching before. I’ve been frustrated and thrown stools before when I’m coaching, but it’s a good feeling to know that you broke someone. That’s how I like to fight: I like to fight the greatest people and make them quit. My submission game’s not the greatest, but it’s all the other stuff where I mentally break someone down. That’s the best victory for me.