It’s that time once again, fans and friends. Another major MMA event has come and gone, and it’s time for my unofficial “Best Performance of the Night” award. Unfortunately, many of the fights of “The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale” would end up going to a decision. Although some were good fights, the event suffered from a distinct lack of exciting finishes. But one finish was not only very exciting, but allowed us to see a man realize his dream. Here’s why Tony Ferguson’s huge KO win to become the winner of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 13 took home “Best Performance of the Night”.
Let’s begin as we always do, fans and friends: let’s put the situation into context.
Coming into this fight, Tony Ferguson was one of the hot-button issues of the thirteenth season of TUF. For a vast majority of the season, Ferguson was one of the favorites to win it all: knocking out people left and right, Ferguson established himself fully inside the cage while not having much of a presence outside of it.
And with just one episode before the season’s finale, one night of drunken debauchery led to Ferguson becoming the season’s biggest villain. Thanks to way too much liquor, Ferguson launched into a tirade, nearly attacking Charlie Rader before accusing him of being a child beater and deadbeat dad. Ferguson later claimed to have blacked out and had no memory of the situation. But the damage was done, and Ferguson was ostracized from both his competing team and his own team.
Meanwhile, Ramsey Nijem quickly became the season’s “dark horse” thanks to his antics outside the cage. His teammates christened him “Stripper Ramsey”, and it appeared that Nijem was simply another crazy wannabe fighter that wanted to get his fifteen minutes of fame by going on a reality show.
Then, of course, Nijem started winning. And he kept winning. And he ended “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 13 with the referee having to drag him off of his opponent.
Heading into this fight, both men were evenly-matched and had risen to the top through a very active pace, good cardio, and serious power behind their punches. And for much of the first round of their fight, both men were as evenly-matched as it was predicted they would be.
But the game of MMA is a matter of inches, sometimes centimeters, and not feet. And sometimes, as cliché as it sounds, all it really does take is one punch.
With one punch, the fight went from competitive to over. In the blink of an eye, Nijem went from holding his own, some would say more than holding his own in fact… to a dazed, confused heap. With the same tenacity that caused him to be the favorite of the season, Tony Ferguson achieved his dream and won “The Ultimate Fighter”. Shortly afterward, Ferguson openly wept and was presented with the traditional TUF trophy as well as the traditional six-figure UFC contract.
In the end, Tony Ferguson proved that nothing else matters once you get locked in a cage with your opponent. The hype comes and goes, the attention from the media comes and goes, fans can love you one second and loathe you the next. But so long as you entertain, so long as you fight to finish, so long as you go into every fight with something to prove? That’s how you become notable, that’s how you stay employed, that’s how you retain a dedicated base of fans… that’s how you become a legend. And that’s a lesson a certain other someone that was involved in the co-main event should have remembered before he himself stepped into the cage.