ramsey-nijem-ufc-fight-night-39

Ramsey Nijem‘s April win proved a turning point in his career, and it had nothing to do with what happened in the cage. For the first time, the Palestinian American fully embraced his heritage, and it proved a life-changing experience.

“It was the best moment of my career,” Nijem told MMAjunkie Radio. “It was something unreal just walking out with all those people going crazy. It was one of those things that you always remember, and I’ll probably tell my grandkids a million times. Your grandfather always tells you the same stories over and over again. That’s got to be my story that I keep sharing.”

It was April, and Nijem was facing Beneil Dariush in Abu Dhabi. Nijem walked to the cage draped in the Palestinian flag, and the reaction from the Middle Eastern crowd was palpable. It wasn’t the first time Nijem had walked to the cage with the flag draped around his shoulders, but it was the first time he has openly discussed his desire to represent the embattled people of his father’s homeland, and never before had he received such hearty support for the gesture.

“With all the stuff going on in the Middle East, I’ve got to represent the Palestinian people right and try to shed a little positive light around a negative situation,” Nijem said.

Of course, all the pre-fight emotion in the world becomes meaningless if you aren’t able to back it up inside the octagon. Nijem did exactly that, scoring an impressive first-round TKO over the previously undefeated fighter. It was Nijem’s second straight win and immediately reestablished him as a legitimate UFC lightweight after a pair of losses left some wondering if he was destined to be a “TUF” washout.

Nijem credits a renewed focus on the sport, not to mention a move to Tareq Azim’s Empower facility in San Francisco, for the change in his results, and he said he moved quickly back to the gym after his latest win in hopes of building on the momentum.

“I came out relatively healthy,” Nijem said. “I just kind of bruised up my hand and ankle a little bit. I just had to do some rehab. I broke my hand years ago and I never really have the time to let it heal. I really focused because I knew the next fight was going to be even tougher so I really took time to get better.

“I’ve been in the gym training, working on all the holes and filling any holes that I might’ve shown last fight and the fight before and any of my other fights. I’m really trying to fill those in so I’m becoming a complete mixed-martial-artist. Wherever the fight goes I’ll be comfortable, so I’m filling in those holes right now.”

Nijem (9-4 MMA, 5-3 UFC) returns to action later this month at UFC 177, when he meets another undefeated prospect in Carlos Diego Ferreira (10-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC). The Brazilian made his UFC debut in June and needed just 38 seconds to tap out “The Ultimate Fighter 16? winner Colton Smith. Nijem said he’s aware of the buzz surrounding his opponent but isn’t intimidated in the least.

“I was hoping to get a fight in August, and this is the fight they gave me,” Nijem said. “He’s undefeated. He beat a ‘TUF’ winner in 38 seconds. He was a legacy champion. There’s a lot of hype around him. The only thing is I’m coming into this fight representing a lot more, and I have no choice but to go out and make another performance.

“I’m going to go win a title and this guy is in my way. I’m not concerned with whoever the opponent is going to be, whatever his name is, what his style is. I’m going out there doing my best to make statements and keep moving up the lightweight division.”

Nijem probably won’t have the same type of response when he walks to the cage in California, even if it is his home state. But that’s just fine for the 26-year-old, who no longer wants to be known as “Stripper Ramsey.” He’s elevated himself to a more meaningful role, and with the Palestinian people’s struggles on his mind, Nijem is ready to elevate his position in the sport, as well.

“Everybody knows what’s going on now in the Middle East, and it’s really kind of a frustrating situation for most Palestinians,” Nijem said. “It’s a heavy-hearted situation. Anytime there’s a time of war, a lot of families are being separated and stuff like that, so if I can just go out and put on a great performance and carry a Palestinian flag out to the cage and give everybody an hour to just get away from all that, I’ve done my job.”

For more on UFC 177, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, MMAjunkie lead staff reporter John Morgan and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

UFC Vet Manny Gamburyan Retires from MMA | MMAWeekly.com

  • 14 days ago
  • 5 views

UFC veteran Manny Gamburyan has called it quits on his mixed martial arts career. read news >>

Thomas Almeida Finishes Albert Morales with Strikes (UFC Sao Paulo Results) | MMAWeekly.com

  • 13 days ago
  • 4 views

Thomas Almeida bounced back from his first career loss in his last outing by knocking out Albert Morales on Saturday in the Fight Night Sao Paulo co-main event. read news >>

Conor McGregor to UFC: 'You're fooling nobody' by crowning new featherweight champs

  • 15 hours ago
  • 59 views

In his first public comment on his alleged relinquishment of the UFC featherweight title, lightweight champ Conor McGregor claims he didn’t give up any belt, and doesn’t plan to. Filed under: Feature read news >>

TUF 24 Finale preview: A closer look at Demetrious Johnson's career statistics

  • 10 hours ago
  • 2 views

UFC flyweight champion and pound-for-pound great Demetrious Johnson returns to the UFC octagon for the first time in eight months as part of tonight’s headlining act of The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale read news >>

TUF 24 Finale results: Brandon Moreno survives knockdown, takes split call from Ryan Benoit

  • 57 minutes ago
  • 1 views

LAS VEGAS – Brandon Moreno proved that his upset win over Louis Smolka was no fluke, but Ryan Benoit made him work to do it. Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

'Korean Zombie' vs. Dennis Bermudez official for UFC Fight Night 104 headliner in Houston

  • 43 minutes ago
  • 0 views

A slew of new matchups have been added to the UFC Fight Night 104 card in Houston over Super Bowl weekend, including a main event that will see former featherweight title challenger Chan Sung Jung re read news >>

Thomas Almeida Takes Out Albert Morales (UFC Sao Paulo Highlights) | MMAWeekly.com

  • 13 days ago
  • 5 views

Thomas Almeida rebounded from his first career loss by taking out Albert Morales in the UFC Sao Paulo co-main event on Saturday. Check out the fight highlights. read news >>

Claudia Gadelha: Changing Camps and Beating Cortney Casey (video) | MMAWeekly.com

  • 13 days ago
  • 31 views

Not only did Claudia Gadelha get the win over Cortney Casey, she also proved that she made the right move be changing up training camps. read news >>

MMAjunkie reader predictions: Make your picks for UFC Fight Night 101 in Australia

  • 12 days ago
  • 16 views

We want your predictions for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 101 event in Australia.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

Joe Silva's Shoes: What's next for Gegard Mousasi and UFC Fight Night 99's other winning fighters?

  • 12 days ago
  • 65 views

After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Joe Silva and Se read news >>