Ramsey Nijem is a great example of a fighter I just have a hard time wrapping my head around. He’s a very talented athlete and fighter who has landed more than double the significant strikes of his opponents in the UFC. He is one of the best at landing takedowns in the UFC, with 5.26 takedowns landed per 15 minutes at 57 percent accuracy. When Nijem is on his game, he is borderline dominant.
But there are a couple problems. One is that Nijem has been knocked out cold twice – once by Tony Ferguson and once by Myles Jury. The other is that Nijem has been submitted twice, both times in the first minute of the fight. Nijem is nearly impossible to beat when the fight goes the distance, but he gets finished quickly at a very high rate. I want to say that Nijem is a “sleeper” ready to take the UFC lightweight division by storm, but with his history of just suddenly losing, he’s very hard to trust.
Nijem is now set to face Carlos Diego Ferreira, and it should alarm Nijem that Ferreira was a very quick winner in his UFC debut. He needed just 38 seconds to submit Colton Smith. That win brought Ferreira’s record to an undefeated 10-0, and his pre-UFC record is a very good one as well. That includes winning the Legacy FC lightweight championship with wins over Carlo Prater, Chris Feist, and Jorge Patino.
The best aspect of Ferreira’s game is definitely his submissions – six of his ten wins are by submission. He’s very good at flowing into strong positions quickly and threatening his opponent. Ferreira is a great example of a fighter whose Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills translate well to mixed martial arts. Ferreira also has a strong kicking game and is known to throw a variety of kicks to a variety of targets. That includes techniques like push kicks to the face.
Ferreira’s weaknesses are his boxing and his offensive takedowns. Those weaknesses in particular lead me to believe an upset may be brewing here against Nijem, who should have what it takes to stuff Ferreira’s takedowns and cleanly out-box him. However, for each point I can think of in Nijem’s favor, I can think of a counter-point for Ferreira:
-Nijem is the superior wrestler but has lost by fast submission twice and most of Ferreira’s wins are by submission. Ferreira doesn’t necessarily have to land a takedown to win by submission.
-Ferreira has yet to win a fight by knockout… but Nijem’s chin is among the worst in the UFC lightweight division.
-Ferreira struggles to land takedowns… but Nijem has only defended two out of six takedowns in the UFC.
If the fight goes the distance, I think Nijem wins. He’s the superior striker and the superior wrestler. The question is: how often does the fight go the distance? In other words, how often does Ferreira take Nijem’s back in a scramble and choke him out, or take Nijem down and advance position from there, or just knock him out?
It’s a very tricky fight to call, but with Ferreira’s status as the betting favorite and Nijem’s history of being finished, I think picking Ferreira is the way to go. As for degenerate gambling, I’m still contemplating whether taking a risk on Nijem at +180 is worth it.
Pick: Carlos Diego Ferreira by submission