Mixed Martial Artists who show up on the Ultimate Fighter generally take one of two paths â€“ that of a dedicated competitor aimed at improving skill or one blinded by the bright lights and prospect of fame. Understandably, the former tend to fare better as many, such as TUF 13 finalist Ramsey Nijem, are testament to.
Nijem is 3-0 since falling as an undersized welterweight in the season final to Tony Ferguson, using the exposure he received on the show to establish professional partnerships with a number of respected individuals in the MMA community instead of make his way into the VIP section of clubs. Fighters.com had a chance to catch up with Nijem after the debut of TUF 17, obtaining some insight on the overall process including some advice for the reality franchiseâ€™s current cast.
â€œItâ€™s a great opportunity. Itâ€™s a great learning experience,â€ said Nijem when asked to sum up the Ultimate Fighter, providing an example of a positive he drew from this status as an alumnus. â€œIt teaches you how to talk in front of the cameras and that way youâ€™re not as surprised the first time you fight in the UFC. It can be overwhelming, so it kind of eases you into that.â€
â€œI think a lot of people think itâ€™s a lot crazier than it is in the house when itâ€™s really probably like 99% boring and 1% something happens. But obviously, whatâ€™s gonna make the show â€“ us sitting around talking about nothing or when someone freaks out and does something crazy? A lot of people think, â€˜Oh, itâ€™s so crazy on that show.â€™ And itâ€™s like, not really dudeâ€¦weâ€™re really just sitting around, training, and sleeping,â€ he continued on the topic. â€œItâ€™s really boring but itâ€™s also amazing because you get to train full time. For me, being a young fighter, itâ€™s probably the best thing I could have done.â€
Nijem also said he made some friends based on the bonding experience involved, though admitted itâ€™s been difficult to keep up with many based on the lot pursuing their own in-ring dreams. However, a number of other relationships stemming from the character and competence Nijem displayed continue to impact his career to this day.
â€œRight off the show I got the opportunity to go be with Jake Shields right before he fought Georges St-Pierre. I got to meet up with John Hackleman who is now one of my main coaches,â€ said Nijem of the fruits born by his time on TUF.
While Nijem admitted TUF makes it easier for fighters to get caught up in things having an adverse impact on their careers, the right approach can make all the difference in the world in terms of overall success.
â€œTake the opportunity to train. Youâ€™re gonna have a lot more opportunity in your life and be a lot more well-known as a fighter. Donâ€™t take the opportunity just to go to parties and get into clubs, get drunk. If you want to be a fighter, take the opportunity to travel around and train with the best guys in the world,â€ Nijem concluded. â€œSet some goals, achieve those first, and then go have some fun afterwards.â€
The first part of our interview with Nijem where he talks TUF 17 and the influx of young fighters into MMA can be found by clicking this linkâ€¦
PHOTO CREDIT: UFC