UFC 144 Results: 5 Fights for Ryan Bader to Take Next

Matt Juul@@MattchidaMMAContributor IIIFebruary 26, 2012

UFC 144 Results: 5 Fights for Ryan Bader to Take Next

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    UFC light heavyweight Ryan Bader spoiled former champion Rampage Jackson's return to Japan by taking a unanimous decision victory at UFC 144.

    Now riding an impressive two-fight win streak, the former Ultimate Fighter winner has reversed his fortunes inside the Octagon, bouncing back from two straight guillotine choke losses to champion Jon Jones and Tito Ortiz.

    Regaining his top-prospect status, here are five fights that Bader should take in order to further solidify his status as a contender in the light heavyweight division.

Vladimir Matyushenko

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    One of the UFC's most experienced veterans, Vladamir Matyushenko is a heavy-handed warrior that would be a tough test for the surging Bader.  

    As the TUF alumni looks to enter the upper echelon in the division, "the Janitor" would be a great bout to truly see if Bader can contend against veteran competition.

    At the very least, Matyushenko makes for an interesting tune-up fight for Bader.

Winner of Thiago Silva vs. Igor Pokrajac

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    With Brazilian striker Thiago Silva set to make his return to the UFC against Igor Pokrajac at UFC on Fuel TV 3, the winner would make for a great matchup against Bader.

    Silva is a world-class striker who would be a great test to see if Bader can stand and bang with a top-level, technical striker.  The winner of that bout could also make a case for a bump in the contender rankings.

    Pokrajac would also be an interesting fight because of his dangerous mix of submission skills and his knockout power.

Shogun Rua

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    If the UFC wants to throw another former champion at Bader, Shogun Rua would be a great fight to take.

    Having had less than consistent success since losing the belt to Jon Jones at UFC 128, Shogun's lethal mix of world class Muay Thai and black belt level jiu-jitsu would be a new combination of skills that Bader has yet to see inside the Octagon.

    A win over another former champion may even catapult Bader into top-contender status.

Phil Davis

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    Coming off a tough loss to former champion Rashad Evans at UFC on FOX 2, Phil Davis remains a top prospect with a set of skills similar to Bader's.  A battle between these two young guns would be an exciting and highly marketable fight.

    Davis has a bit of a size advantage, but his strong wrestling base and interesting striking would be a great stylistic matchup against Bader, who is a heavy-handed wrestler.

    A win for Bader over Davis would quiet any lingering doubters.

Brandon Vera

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    Forced to withdraw for his rematch with Thiago Silva due to an injury, Brandon Vera will have to look for a new opponent as Igor Pokrajac takes his place.

    With both Vera and Bader coming off of wins, this would be a no brainer pairing for the UFC. Both fighters have decent name recognition and could even make for a Fuel TV or FX headliner.

    Pitting Vera's great kickboxing against Bader's powerful wrestling would be a fantastic light heavyweight battle.

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