The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 13 Finale will conclude this Saturday night (June 4, 2011) in Las Vegas, Nevada, as the two welterweights from the show deemed most worthy will duke it out for that coveted six figure UFC contract.
Tony Ferguson showcased his excellent striking throughout the season, scoring three straight knockouts to advance to the finals. After being relatively quiet, he instantly became the "heel" of the series with a drunken escapade in the second to last episode. He's out for redemption and the best way to win fans is to perform on the big stage.
Just ask Chris Leben.
Ramsey Nijem may have been the happy-go-lucky clown of the show, but he was all business inside the Octagon. He took out every opponent with relative ease and quickly became the "guy to beat" with his repeated dominant performances.
He'll be out for blood on Saturday night.
Can Ferguson repair his tarnished image with a stellar performance? Can Nijem grapple his way to victory? Who will be the next "Ultimate Fighter?"
Check out the complete fight preview after the jump to find out:
*Note: key wins and losses have been removed considering neither guy has really had a chance to perform against UFC-level competition yet.
Record: 10-2 overall, 0-0 in the UFC
How he got here: Tony Ferguson began fighting professionally in 2008 and compiled a 10-2 professional record before becoming a season 13 cast member on TUF. His last three pro fights were all technical knockout (TKO) victories and he brought that power into the show.
The third pick for Team Lesnar, Ferguson scored an incredible knockout in his first fight against Justin Edwards with an upkick after being taken down. He followed up his performance by blasting Ryan McGillivray in less than a minute to secure his second straight first round finish.
Ferguson got into some trouble on the show while celebrating his victory with the team, getting drunk and starting problems with cast member Charlie Rader. After apologizing to everyone involved, he went out and put away Chuck O'Neil via third round TKO to advance to the finals for a chance to become the next "Ultimate Fighter."
How he gets it done: There's no doubt about it, Ferguson will want to keep this fight standing. He possesses excellent power in both hands and as shown in his fight with Edwards, he is capable of knocking his opponent out from any position.
If Tony wants to increase his odds of winning, he needs to keep his distance. He did a good job of utilizing his range...at times. Other times during the show he overcommitted big time to his uppercuts and straight right hands. If Tony wants to commit to a big strike, he needs to be absolutely certain that he's going to land it clean, otherwise he's going to leave himself wide open to heavy counters from Ramsey or, most likely, the easiest takedowns in history.
Ferguson will want to use his footwork to avoid getting cornered and pushed into the fence and he'll have to keep Nijem on the end of his jab and frustrate him standing.
He displayed some punishing leg kicks in his semifinal bout with O'neil. If he can wear down Nijem's legs with some crippling kicks, he'll give himself a much better chance of avoiding his wrestling. Hopefully, in the time since the filming of the show, he's progressed his takedown defense significantly because he's going to need it.
Record: 4-1 overall, 0-0 in the UFC
How he got here: Ramsey skipped an amateur fight career and jumped in to the professional ranks head first. Thankfully, he trains alongside some top guys like TUF season 11 winner Court McGee.
Nijem entered season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter as a bit of an enigma, holding just a 4-1 professional record. He was the fourth pick by Team dos Santos and originally everyone just thought he would be the resident goofball on the show due to his crazy antics. Instead, he quickly became a favorite to win the title with his prowess in wrestling both in the clinch and on the ground.
"Stripper" Ramsey completely outgrappled Charley Rader in his first right, winning by rear naked choke and he followed that dominant performance up by overwhelming Clay Harvison in less than a minute. He immediately took Harvison's back and sunk in a choke, neutralizing Clay's tough striking completely.
In his semifinal fight, Nijem showed no fear of his opponent Chris Cope's striking by wading forward with wild flurries and pressuring him against the cage fence. He clipped Chris with a big overhand right and put him away with a big flurry of punches along the fence to score a TKO finish.
His victory pits him against Ferguson in the Ultimate Finale.
How he gets it done: Ramsey talked about his improved striking during the conference call on Thursday, but if he really wants the best chance to win this fight, he needs to put his opponent either on his back or in the clinch.
Ramsey is an absolute fiend in the clinch. He suffocates his opponents there and gives them no room to function. He's also done an excellent job of avoiding being reversed. He keeps his position on the inside and works for takedowns while mixing in knees and short punches.
Obviously, the ultimate goal for Nijem is to put Ferguson on his back. If he can do it, he can't give "El Cucuy" any space on the ground unless he wants to be another upkick victim. Nijem needs to get up close and personal. If he wants to strike with Ferguson, do it on the ground, force him to turn away and give up his back and then sink in that nasty rear naked choke of his.
Fight "X-Factor:" The obvious "X-Factor" for this fight is where the bout takes place. Ferguson's strengths are almost entirely on the feet while Ramsey can blow his opponents away on the ground.
If Ferguson can keep his distance and avoid Ramsey's clinch and takedown attempts, he'll have a great opportunity to punish Nijem and even finish the fight with his excellent power.
If the fight goes to the ground, Nijem's odds of winning the fight improve drastically. Ramsey is an excellent wrestler and uses his jiu-jitsu to stick to his opponents like glue on the ground.
Despite the clear advantages of both fighters, they each had a fight on the show where they finished an opponent in their weakest position. Ferguson knocked a guy out while on his back and Nijem TKO'd his last opponent standing.
Bottom line: This bout has the potential to be a sloppy stand-up brawl or a war of attrition on the ground. Nijem's TKO victory in the semifinals could give him the confidence to stand and bang with Ferguson, even if it's a bad idea.
Both of these guys finished all of their opponents on the show and clearly were the two best talents. Expect fireworks on Saturday night.
Who will come out on top at the Ultimate Finale? Let us know in the comments section below!