Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Thursday, April 21, 2011 | 2:05 a.m.
The fourth episode of the 13th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” portrayed 22-year old UFC hopeful Ramsey Nijem as a playful guy with an in-the-moment personality.
Nijem danced around the "TUF" house, made his fellow cast mates uncomfortable with jokes and painted his toenails purple. His behavior during the episode wasn’t a misrepresentation or the result of liberal editing.
Nijem has always acted on a whim. For proof, look no further than how his mixed martial arts career started.
“My first two fights were with zero training,” Nijem said in an interview earlier this year on the "TUF" set. “My first fight, I went out there and didn’t know the rules. I wasn’t an MMA fan back then and it was supposed to be amateur, but it was technically pro. They just told me like, ‘You can go ahead and elbow him.’ I’m like, ‘You can elbow? Sweet.’ So I just took the guy down and started elbowing him, and he eventually gave me his back.”
Nijem was a college wrestler at Utah Valley University at the time and accepted the bout at the behest of a friend. Riding high off of his debut triumph, Nijem took another fight. But the lack of familiarity with MMA caught up to him.
“I didn’t really know what I was doing and got caught in an armbar,” Nijem said.
Nijem, who is 4-1 in his professional career, has come a long way in the two years since. He emerged as one of the most promising prospects on this season of "TUF" with a second-round submission victory over Charlie Rader during Wednesday night’s episode.
Nijem thoroughly dominated with his wrestling ability in the first round before taking Rader’s back and applying a rear naked choke in the second. Rader quickly tapped out to the pressure.
“In wrestling here on my team, (Nijem) is No. 1,” Nijem’s coach Junior Dos Santos said on the show.
Nijem’s victory gave Dos Santos’ team a 3-1 edge over the squad coached by Brock Lesnar this season. Lesnar has lost his top two picks, Len Bentley and Rader, in the past two episodes.
Nijem was only Dos Santos’ fourth pick at the beginning of the season, but he made a statement by becoming the first fighter to win a bout via stoppage this season.
“I think people know now that I’m here for business,” Nijem said on the show. “I’m not just here to paint my toenails. I believe I have the ability to win this show.”
Nijem is both the youngest and most inexperienced fighter on the show this season, but he said he didn’t think that would hurt his chances. If his personality bothers others on the show, then so be it.
Nijem expected that to happen, which is why he was already working up an apology to his mother days after arriving in Las Vegas to shoot the show.
“She just doesn’t want me to be an idiot,” Nijem said. “And unfortunately, I’m going to be an idiot at one point or another, because I am an idiot. I guess I can’t help her too much on that one.”