For some fighters, opening up an event as the first fight on the Facebook card might not mean much, but UFC Fight Night 26 is no ordinary card. With 13 pay per view quality fights on the program, the introduction of the FOX Sports 1 channel to a 93 million home viewer base, and the chance to leave Boston with a good impression, the UFC may very well end up with their homerun card of the year.
For Ramsey Nijem, a young, Palestinian-American UFC lightweight, it carries a lot of weight, and he's proud to be one of the first runners with the torch, so to speak. You've got two ways of looking at it, either the brass isn't fond of you, so they bury you on the undercard as the curtain jerker, or they have confidence in your ability to kick off a world class event. Ramsey hopes in his case, it's the latter scenario.
My MMA Sentinel co-host, Iain Kidd and I, recently did a quick interview with Nijem, where he discussed the pressures of coming off a loss and what it's like to be the only UFC fighter of Arab descent. Here's what he had to say:
Being Of Arab Descent
One of the big things that makes people take notice of me, and helped me get my foot in the door, is being of Arab descent. Being Palestinian, I'm the only Arab in the UFC right now. It can present it's issues, too [laughs]. We were just on our way back from California, and I was the one that got randomly searched. I've had a few people say some ignorant things and be racist towards me, but it's really not too bad and I don't take it personally. If someone is being a racist idiot, it's usually because they're stupid.
You know, I feel a little bit of pressure, for sure, but that's not always a bad thing. It definitely makes you work harder and makes you more focused. That said, that loss was also a learning curve for me. A lot of people don't realize that I haven't been fighting very long. It's one of those things you have to learn from. I've definitely gotten a lot better since then.
The pressure is there, no matter what. We all know that our job is pretty much on the line every time we fight. That pressure to perform is a real thing. It's a tough job. A lot of people think we just go to the gym and train, but a lot of baggage comes with being a fighter. It's not a lifestyle where you just get to hang out and have a great time. You have to fight for your job every time.
You can follow Ramsey via his Twitter account, @RamseyNijem