After beginning his career 12-0, Ryan Bader looked poised for a title shot. He stepped into the ring at UFC 126 riding high and looking to stay unbeaten against now-champion Jon Jones. However, Jones caught Bader in a Guillotine choke less than a minute into the second round and Bader submitted.
Bader’s struggles continued at UFC 132 when he looked to get back on track against the future Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz. Ortiz, who is in the twilight of his storied career, salvaged what little he had left when he caught Bader in a Guillotine choke at 1:56 of the first round.
“Darth” Bader was now sitting at 12-2, coming off of his second straight loss by submission and he was quickly moving down the ranks as fast as he moved up them. He was slated to fight Jason Brilz at UFC 139, a fight he needed to win to avoid a total collapse that some fighters struggle to ever escape.
Ryan Bader had to have known this because he came in and dominated Brilz, finishing him in the first round. He was able to get back on track and scored a fight with punishing striker Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 144.
Heading into this fight, Bader will look to keep his fortunes going against a former champion who is looking to get back to the top as well. Jackson doesn’t have too many years left so he’ll have to make the most of this opportunity against Bader.
For Ryan, he’ll have to try to take Rampage down and work him on the ground because standing up and getting into a slugfest with Jackson is not in his best interest. The former All-American wrestler at Arizona State will have to do what he does best and get the striker on the ground.
Jackson doesn’t have a true ground game, at least not like Ryan’s, and will be in trouble if Bader can score a few takedowns. Ryan Bader is one of the best in his class at taking his opponents down and controlling the fight on his terms. Rampage is a tough one to bring down though, as he’s currently avoiding takedowns at an impressive 82 percent. He’ll be hungrier than ever coming into this showdown in Tokyo.
Rampage lacks a ground game, which is something Bader undoubtedly look to exploit from the opening bell. Bader can strike, but not like Rampage can so he’ll have to take advantage of the wrestling mismatch. Bader’s submission skills are vastly underrated and as long as he can avoid getting into a striking contest with the slugger, he may have the edge in this fight.
The longer the fight lasts, the better Bader should fare. Ryan has better endurance and the deeper it goes, the less likely it is that Rampage will be able to knock him out. Bader will look to wear him down and play to his own skills while avoiding Rampage’s devastating blows. Jackson is hard to submit, he’s only been submitted once in the UFC, so Bader will have a challenge on his hands.
This fight has all the sounds of a Ryan Bader win. Bader is the far better wrestler of the two and has the skills that Rampage has trouble with. The fight with Jason Brilz clearly helped Bader’s confidence at a time when he surely was lacking some. He came out fierce and pummeled his opponent, which is the same way Bader will need to come out against one of the most dangerous strikers in UFC history.
Ryan Bader knows how important this fight is to his career and he will be ready. He was on the cusp of a title shot before his two losses and he won’t let that opportunity get away from him again. Bader looks like he’s back, and if that really is the case, Rampage will be in for a tough fight.
This is the fight where the light heavyweight division will be shaken up as one of the toughest fighters in the class will get back on his game. Look for Bader to win this one in a unanimous decision since Rampage is very hard to submit. Bader won’t get caught with a heavy blow and he’s surely been training for this type of fighter.
Rampage holds a certain reputation amongst UFC fans and is one of the biggest stars in the business. Given Bader’s struggles and Rampage’s name, Bader will probably be the underdog in this one, but he won’t come out one.
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is the first obstacle in the way of Ryan Bader’s return to glory. A win over Jackson will catapult Bader near the top of the rankings and could possibly put him one fight away from a rematch with Jon Jones, this time for the belt.