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Ramsey Nijem Prepares for Finale Clash With Tony Ferguson

With a second-round technical knockout victory over Chris Cope, Ramsey Nijem advanced to the Ultimate Fighter Finale, where he'll fight Tony Ferguson on Saturday night in Las Vegas, live on Spike TV.

In his weekly interview with MMAFighting.com, Nijem talked about his fight with Cope, how he views Ferguson as an opponent, and what it would mean to him to be the winner of Season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter.

The interview, which also touches on how Nijem has been training for Ferguson in the time since Ultimate Fighter filming ended, is below.

Michael David Smith: Right after the fight you described beating Chris Cope as "probably the best feeling I've had ever." Now that you've had a little more time to reflect on it, do you still feel that way?
Ramsey Nijem: Definitely at that point it was, but now I'm more focused on the Finale and that's the next step. My goal in the house was to come out and be in the Finale, but now my new goal is to win the show. Once I beat Tony and win the show I think I'll get the same feeling again.

Your background is in wrestling, but were you glad to show off your striking in the fight with Cope?
It felt good to show off my hands because I think people just think of me as a wrestler. I work hard on the stand-up and the jiu jitsu aspects of my game, and it's nice to be able to show that off as well.

In the other fight on this week's episode, Tony Ferguson looked pretty good beating Chuck O'Neil. What do you think of him as an opponent?
Tony looked good I guess, but I felt like he could have finished Chuck earlier. He didn't really put too many punches together -- it was all two-punch combinations at the most. He's a dangerous opponent but I don't think he's going to be able to come after me and do what he did to the guys he's beaten so far. I'll always be in the fight.

Tony was a wrestler in college and he demonstrated during his fights on the show that he has knockout power. Where do you think you're better than him?
His college wrestling wasn't real college wrestling -- it was club wrestling. It's below junior college. I wouldn't really consider him a college wrestler or really a wrestler at all. So I think I have an advantage there but my game plan is to exploit his weaknesses everywhere. He doesn't protect his chin after he jabs, so that's an area where I can hurt him, and I eventually plan to get his back on the ground and choke him out. I feel like I have decent hands and I definitely am a better wrestler and have jiu jitsu and can control the fight.

What has your preparation for this fight been like for you? Are you doing a lot of things to prepare specifically for Tony as an opponent?
My coaches have been watching tape on him. One of my best friends, Brock Jardine, actually fought Tony, and his one loss is to Tony. I always had this feeling I was going to fight him in the Finale and avenge my buddy's loss. Brock's like a brother to me, and I really felt like Brock could have beaten Tony but it was a five-round fight and he gassed in the fourth round and it was more like Brock beating himself than Tony beating him.

Who's going to be in your corner on Saturday?
John Hackleman, Jason Mertlich, Court McGee and Brock Jardine. Jason is my main coach. I work with him all the time, and then we'll go out to The Pit and train with Hackleman as well. Jason's an awesome wrestling and jiu jitsu coach, Hackleman is more stand-up, and they complement each other really well. Court and Brock are good friends and teammates. Our team is doing great, the guys we train with had a total of 20-something wins and only one loss in 2010, so I'm really happy with my team. I'm working on everything: my hands, my jiu jitsu, closing the gaps for takedowns. I'm ready.

What would it mean to you to become the Ultimate Fighter winner on Saturday night?
It would mean my hard work paid off. I've dedicated myself to this 100 percent, sacrificed everything to be here, and to have that kind of result would be unreal. It would mean I've taken a big step, and then I'd just keep working hard and keep following my dream.

(Editor's note: Ramsey Nijem joined us each week during Season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter to share his thoughts on that week's episode. Follow Ramsey on Twitter @RamseyNijem. You can read all his interviews during the season here.)