Is it too early to start writing previews for the UFC’s debut on Fox Sports 1? Probably, but I’m going to anyway.
*Assumed FPR given to fighters with no Fight Metric time.
Ramsey Nijem is a very talented fighter with a fatal flaw that will likely prevent him from ever becoming a title contender – his chin. Nijem has two losses by knockout in ten career pro fights. Both knockouts were clean shots that put Nijem unconscious, first by Tony Ferguson and then by Myles Jury. It’s a small sample, but Nijem has been knocked out twice in 58 significant strikes absorbed. That ratio of 29 strikes per knockout places Nijem alongside George Sotiropoulos as having the worst chins in the UFC lightweight division.
Otherwise, Nijem is a very solid fighter. He’s an intelligent fighter who uses his wrestling prowess to prevent opponents from landing many strikes. His significant strike ratio of 131:58 and takedown ratio of 15:4 are both outstanding. He’s had somewhat weak competition but has performed highly regardless. Before being knocked out, he was competing very evenly against Myles Jury – and I’m in the camp that thinks of Jury as a future title contender.
Nijem’s opponent is James Vick, a contestant on TUF 15 and a fighter who hasn’t competed since then due to injuries. The most remarkable thing about Vick is his height: at 6’3″ he’s one of the tallest fighters in the lightweight division. In comparison everybody called Corey Hill a freak but Hill is just one inch taller at 6’4″. Fighters like Vick who are relatively tall for their weight class tend to have effective/dangerous striking and awful takedown defense.
On TUF, Vick defeated Dakota Cochrane by (one-round) decision, Daron Cruickshank by KO, and Joe Proctor by decision before being knocked out against Michael Chiesa. That’s a pretty impressive run for a fighter who entered with just four pro fights on his record.
Vick can be a punishing striker, which means any strike he lands can put Nijem unconscious… but how many strikes will Vick land? Nijem is likely to take Vick down early in every round. As long as Nijem isn’t hit by a knee to the jaw as he shoots in, it’s unlikely that he’ll be knocked out. Nijem will establish top position and effectively shut down Vick’s striking offense.
Here are the ways I see Nijem potentially losing this fight:
- One of Vick’s 15-20 significant strikes knocks him out
- Nijem inexplicably chooses to strike with Vick instead of taking him down
In Vick’s defense, he showed good takedown defense against Proctor – but Proctor is not the wrestler Nijem is, or even close. There’s a chance Vick can win by sudden knockout, but the smart pick is for Nijem to wrestle Vick for three rounds and win by lopsided decision or possible submission.
Pick: Ramsey Nijem by decision