by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
As Phillipe Nover tips the scales on five years in mixed martial arts with a 5-0-1 professional record, he has earned some of the highest praise ever in the eight-season history of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
He has been compared to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and welterweight titleholder Georges St. Pierre. That’s extremely high praise for a 24-year-old; especially considering it comes from his boss, UFC president Dana White.
Having cruised through The Ultimate Fighter competition, recently earning his black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and finally leaving his job as a registered nurse in the emergency room at Coney Island Hospital, Nover faces the pressure on Saturday night of living up to all the expectations placed upon him since emerging as the lightweight favorite.
Interestingly, he carries a calm with him into fighting that he says stems from his former duties in the ER.
“The ER definitely helped me mentally because working the ER… I got to see a lot of blood and gore and guts,” says the Brooklyn, N.Y. native. “So pretty much nothing can surprise me after a year or two of that. I’ll be ready for anything. It’s like two opposite ends of the spectrum, the other end of the spectrum being that I want to smash the guy instead of putting him together.”
At The Ultimate Fighter Finale on Spike TV on Saturday night, he faces the toughest test of his fighting career in Efran Escudero, his teammate under coach Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira on the TV show. “I guess Efran would be a true test. He’s undefeated; he has more experience than me in the Octagon. It would be a true test and I’m here to take it.”
Neither fighter is surprised to know they’ll be standing across the Octagon from each other on Saturday night.
“Phillipe and I knew a while back that if we made it to the semis, we’d probably fight each other in the finals,” Escudero told MMAWeekly.com. “For me, it’s a great honor to fight him.”
Even Frank Mir, who failed to produce a lightweight fighter to counter Nogueira in the finals, has given Nover and Escudero due respect for their achievements.
“All four guys in the finals deserve to be there. They’re the most talented guys and they got there rightfully so,” Mir commented recently, later adding, “I hear more people talking about Junie Browning than they do about Phillipe Nover or Efran, which is an insult to those two fighters. They are the better martial artists. They’re greater fighters.”
On Saturday night however, all the praise fades into the background, as only one man or the other will emerge as winner of The Ultimate Fighter lightweight division.
Phillipe Nover believes it will be him, fulfilling his potential and making his team at Universal Defense Systems proud.