Anthony Ferguson had a lot of demons with him as he entered the cage last night (June 4, 2011).
Ferguson had two battles on Saturday night. One, obviously, was for the right to become the next TUF champion, but the other was a PR battle to repair his tarnished image from the show. He was negatively portrayed near the end of The Ultimate Fighter after drinking too much, losing his cool and offending all of his castmates.
The boos from the crowd didn't seem to faze him though as he put Nijem away with a beautiful left hand in the first round.
Find out how "El Cucuy" set up his seventh consecutive knockout victory after the jump.
Surprisingly, the bout started with Nijem aggressively looking to strike. "Stripper" Ramsey had made his mark on the show for his takedowns, clinch work and submissions but he pushed forward with arm strikes and Ferguson set the tone for the fight by ducking under his hooks and taking the wrestler down.
Ferguson seemed to catch Nijem off guard with his wrestling, something he'd seldomly used on the show.
Also, it appeared that Ramsey's knockout of Chris Cope may have gotten to his head a bit and made him think he could actually stand and trade with Ferguson.
That was a bad idea.
After getting back to his feet, Nijem lunged forward, chasing "El Cucuy" across the cage with a flurry of arm punches that had absolutely nothing on them and Ferguson again ducked under and briefly took him down.
With Ramsey now concerned about the wrestling of his opponent and his pace slowing a tad, Ferguson showed him what it's like to throw a punch with real technique.
Ferguson clipped Ramsey with a right hand but it was a left hook, thrown straight from the hip with his feet planted, that landed flush right on the point of the chin and put Nijem's lights out. It was a beautiful finish for the boogeyman.
This fight was all about technique. Ramsey tried to overwhelm Ferguson with volume punches but Ferguson, the Team Lesnar fighter, would gladly trade one big left hand for 50 arm punches any day of the week.
Nijem still possesses respectable skills but he would be wise to go back to utilizing that ground game that brought him to this point. He should be using his striking to set up takedowns, not to finish fights, at least not yet. He'll likely be given one more opportunity against a bottom-of-the-rung-type fighter to see if he can hang in the promotion.
For Ferguson, his future looks bright. He's already off to a great start with his advantages in striking technique and power to go along with his Division II national champion wrestling base.
He called out Amir Sadollah after his big victory, but that may be too much too soon for the young fighter. Expect him to face a guy making his UFC debut in his next bout or perhaps a mid-level guy like Matt Riddle or John Howard to see where he stands in the division.
So Maniacs, what did you think?
After a pretty lousy season of The Ultimate Fighter, can Ferguson make an impact in the welterweight division?