With his painted toenails, his love of the TV show Glee, and an inclination to end up naked in social settings, Team dos Santos welterweight Ramsey Nijem (4-1) does not fit the tough-guy mold of a mixed martial arts fighter.
But to underestimate his skills would be a mistake. Just ask Brock Lesnar. He told his fighter Charlie Rader it would be a “disgrace” to lose to someone like Ramsey, and sure enough… Charlie lost.
Now, Ramsey finds himself in the quarterfinals and one step closer to becoming the next Ultimate Fighter.
ProMMAnow.com recently caught up with the glee-filled gladiator to talk about his win over Rader, get his thoughts on Lesnar’s comments about him and to hear his perspective on the beef going on between his coaches, Lew Polley and Junior dos Santos.
PRO MMA NOW: Congratulations on your win over Charlie Rader. How bad do you think Brock felt to have his guy get beat by someone who paints their toenails?
RAMSEY NIJEM: I think it probably really was a cut into his manhood because you know he puts on that macho persona, so you know, for him to lose to someone who is “not macho” probably hurt his ego a little bit. We were actually kind of laughing about it, me and Hackleman because you know he paints his toenails and it was just kind of a funny situation that someone cares about something like that.
PRO MMA NOW: What did you think when you heard his comments about you, saying it would be a disgrace to lose to a guy with painted toenails?
RAMSEY NIJEM: I actually laughed. I thought it was hilarious that that was something he was worried about… and after getting to know Brock you begin to realize he puts on those macho man pants and is trying to be concerned with what I guess people perceive him as, and I’m the complete opposite. I’ve never tried to be a hard ass or anything like that. I just like to fight and I’m just myself.
PRO MMA NOW: Was it all part of your plan to sort of make the other team underestimate you with some of your antics, or was that a by-product of just being yourself?
RAMSEY NIJEM: That’s just a by-product 100% of being myself. The funny thing is a lot of my friends and guys on my team were like, aw that’s nothing. They just thought that was me edited. They were like, did you kind of hold back a little bit for the cameras? I was like yeah, I wasn’t really 100% myself because I would be even more wild and crazy but… Like at our regular team practice I like to goof off and have fun and just be retarded, and somehow I lose my clothes and I’m always naked, I dunno…
PRO MMA NOW: What was your overall impression of Brock as a coach and person on the show?
RAMSEY NIJEM: Brock just seems like he’s just there for… I mean they obviously had to do a lot to get him there and it’s not something he wanted to do I think without the right incentive. I just don’t think he was that emotionally invested. You know he threw a stool kind of upset and did some things, but I think it was more of his personal ego than him actually caring about his guy losing. It was more of him saying, oh Brock Lesnar team lost instead of Charlie lost. It’s all about him, it’s the Brock Lesnar show. And whenever he fights it’s Brock-a-mania or whatever they call it, and he likes that and that’s what he’s used to.
PRO MMA NOW: What do you think of him as a fighter – I was thinking you guys actually have fairly similar styles, would you agree?
RAMSEY NIJEM: I actually disagree with that because that style you saw that first fight is not really how I fight. That was more of me going in there and trying to play a little bit safe and not hurt myself and not to hurt anything you know. When I’m on the ground I’m not just ground and pounding and looking for the double. I don’t mind trying to open up a little bit more and I’m not stiff or anything like that, kind of like how Brock just comes forward looking for that double.
PRO MMA NOW: Do you respect him as a fighter though?
RAMSEY NIJEM: Yeah you know, I have a little respect for him. He did win a title with five fights under his belt which is amazing and shows what kind of athlete he is. It’s nothing against him personally. I don’t have any beef or dislike him or anything like that. It’s just watching the show it’s kind of funny what he says to certain people, and just his coaching style is kind of something I would disagree with.
PRO MMA NOW: You seem a lot more jovial and have a lot more personality than many of the guys we have seen on TUF over the years. I could almost see you on something like The Real World. Did you get the feeling some of the guys weren’t used to be around someone like you and had you ever tried out for any other reality shows or have you done any acting or anything?
RAMSEY NIJEM: No, I’ve never done any other reality shows or any kind of acting or anything like that. Since I was a little kid I’ve been the same way, I’ve been a crazy outgoing person always getting into trouble and stuff like that. That was actually the first time I ever tried out for it. The thing is I love to fight and I’m going to be myself no matter who’s around and that’s who I am, and I enjoy fighting and I’m pretty good at it, and so it’s just something I like to do. If it wasn’t for the reality show I would have been the exact same way, eventually make it to the UFC even though people would never realize my personality and stuff like that.
PRO MMA NOW: Where did you grow up?
RAMSEY NIJEM: I grew up outside of Seattle in Mill Creek, Washington. Yeah, I won “class clown” awards and all those kinds of stuff when I was in high school because I was always joking around and stuff.
PRO MMA NOW: When did you know you wanted to be a professional fighter and how did all that come about?
RAMSEY NIJEM: After I did my first couple of fights I really started enjoying it and I was done with wrestling in college and I was just kind of looking for a path I guess to go down. I was finishing up school and I didn’t want to get a real job. I actually really enjoyed training, fighting. I was hungry to win, hungry to fight and stuff like that. So from that point on I decided to be a full time fighter.
PRO MMA NOW: Was there one thing in particular that made you say, I think I will give this MMA thing a try?
RAMSEY NIJEM: I think it was actually after I lost, my first loss, kind of motivated me to give 100% and try my best and start going after my dream.
PRO MMA NOW: I noticed some photos of you with Court McGee and John Hackleman, and you mentioned Hackleman earlier. What’s your relationship with those guys and how did you hook up with them.
RAMSEY NIJEM: Well Court, I lived next to him and had trained with him even before he was on The Ultimate Fighter, when I was just a wrestler I would come and wrestle with him and help him with his wrestling which is part of fighting. That’s kind of how I got dragged into it, Court obviously was a professional fighter and we kind of developed a relationship that way. Then I started training with him. Then when he was on the show he met John. Then John came out to train with him and just kind of met us all, and our gym is now called “PIT Elevated” in Utah, and our coach Jason Mertlich out there is good friends with John and we’re all PIT affiliated and we’re all one big happy family now.
PRO MMA NOW: Okay, that’s what I was going to ask you next is where are you currently training?
RAMSEY NIJEM: I do half my time in Utah at now the PIT Elevated and out at the O.G. PIT, the original one.
PRO MMA NOW: And as far as your long term goals for the sport, do you have anything in mind of what you would like to achieve?
RAMSEY NIJEM: Right now I’m 23. I feel like I have a good long career ahead of me. I have a good start off and am building a name for myself. I’m real competitive and I like to win and obviously a title is eventually my goal, otherwise I’m in the wrong sport if I don’t ever want to be a title-holder.
PRO MMA NOW: What are your thoughts on this beef between Coach Lew Polley and Junior?
RAMSEY NIJEM: It’s all kind of dumb because I feel like sometimes Lew wants to be there just to kind of get his name out there and make a name for himself as a fighter and coach and stuff like that. You know it’s Junior’s game so Junior should have the last say in it and Lew was kind of undermining him and I was disagreeing with some of the things Lew said. But in the end it’s Junior’s team and if he doesn’t want to be on board, you know, he shouldn’t be there.
PRO MMA NOW: So was that something you guys noticed, could you see that Lew was overstepping his bounds or disrespecting Junior in any way?
RAMSEY NIJEM: Yeah, I mean it was kind of obvious when Junior would say one thing and Lew would say something else, or Lew would try to run practice and Junior would have to come in and change up the practice and stuff like that because… We obviously caught on and we knew what was going on. It was just kind of awkward sometimes between them having a little bit of animosity. But we just had to train or whatever so we tried not to focus on it.
PRO MMA NOW: There was a video released with Lew talking about it and he had some pretty harsh things to say about Junior, did you see that?
RAMSEY NIJEM: No I haven’t seen it, but I kind of see him on his blog, he’s been bad-mouthing Junior and all his coaches and it’s actually really disrespectful because the only person out of the coaching staff that I felt was there to make a name for themselves was Lew. And he says, “Oh I’m here for the fighters and I care about the fighters and I’m not here to be popular.” But it was the complete opposite. Lew was there for the cameras and he would do things when the cameras were around to get noticed and he would tell coach Billy, our striking coach, to go for the cameras. And coach Billy is a family man, he coaches his guys. He doesn’t want to be famous, he doesn’t want to be on TV, and I feel like that’s what Lew wants to do. You can tell by his blogging, his Twitter and all the stuff he’s trying to get his little 15 minutes of fame.
PRO MMA NOW: I wonder if he ever tried out for the show?
RAMSEY NIJEM: I don’t know if he ever tried out for the show but I can guarantee you if he had the chance to be on it he would take it. I know that for a fact because he wants to be in the UFC but his problem is he doesn’t have the greatest record and he beats like no-names but he will always lose to tougher guys and he’s kind of a boring fighter cause he just tries to hold people down and control them. So, he’s going to have to change some things if he wants to be a good fighter or in the UFC. But I guarantee you if he had the chance to be on The Ultimate Fighter he would, as a fighter.
PRO MMA NOW: What can fans expect to see the rest of this season on TUF?
RAMSEY NIJEM: From here on out there’s no more boring fights, they’re all exciting. There’s some bloody ones. And the drama starts to pick up in the house and between the coaches. You know, it was kind of a slow start and everyone’s been complaining about the season but it picks up. Everyone was just kind of feeling people out in the beginning but once people start getting more comfortable is when things start happening.
PRO MMA NOW: I thought it’s been great. I’ve actually enjoyed this season more than I have in a very long time to tell you the truth.
RAMSEY NIJEM: There’s always bloggers that will say negative things about everything. I guess the ratings haven’t been as high up. I guess people like the man drama.
PRO MMA NOW: Thanks for speaking with us at ProMMAnow.com, Ramsey. Do you have any final words of wisdom for us or anything specific you want the readers to know about you we haven’t discussed?
RAMSEY NIJEM: This is a quote from John Hackleman just from today, “Shut the [expletive] up and train!”
PRO MMA NOW: I like it! Would you like to thank anyone?
RAMSEY NIJEM: Thanks to coach Hackleman and coach Jason Mertlich and everyone at The Pit and The Pit Elevated.