The former NCAA Division-l standout landed at the gates of the UFC headquarters having ridden a seven-fight win streak. He continued that streak with five victories—most notably against Keith Jardine and Antonio “Minotouro” Nogueira.
It was Bader’s win over Nogueira that propelled him to the status "future of the light heavyweight division," and an eventual matchup with Jon “Bones” Jones.
What Bader wasn’t to know is that if he’d won that bout, he could’ve easily been the one vying for the 205-pound gold in lieu of Jones, who now reigns supreme over that weight class.
A loss to Jones was nothing to be ashamed about, as the young phenom had been destined for great things, but to call out and then lose to a fading star in the guise of Tito Ortiz was an ignominy he’d sure like to put down as an aberration.
In the co-main event, Bader will be throwing down with a true and tested wily old fox by the name of Quinton Jackson, a former UFC light heavyweight titlist and a hero to the Japanese fans from his days in Pride—the latter of which could spell bad news for Bader, as Rampage will be hell bent on putting on a show for the home crowd.
That said, victory is a must if he’s to continue his redemption (a first-round KO of Jason Brilz at UFC 139), as well as the opportunity to climb up the ranks and back into title contention.
However, a defeat and it’s back to the drawing board, headlining preliminary televised cards whilst facing an arduous journey back to the top. And if he were to register a second loss in his next bout, it could signal a swift exit from Zuffa-based promotion.
At UFC 144, Bader has the most to lose.
UFC 144 is scheduled for Feb. 25, 2012, at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
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