UFC 174: Ryan Bader vs. Rafael Cavalcante Full Head-to-Toe Breakdown
On Saturday night at UFC 174, a key fight takes place in the light heavyweight division between The Ultimate Fighter Season 8 winner Ryan Bader and former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante.
Both fighters will be looking to win two straight and rise in the official rankings. Bader is currently No. 9, while Cavalcante is No. 11. A win could be big for both men.
Both are solid wherever the fight may go, but let's find out who will have the edge on Saturday night.
Both fighters have solid striking coming into this one, and combined they have 17 knockouts in 28 wins.
Bader's last knockout win came in 2011 against Jason Brilz, and before that he knocked out Keith Jardine in 2010. Overall, he has seven wins by knockout.
Cavalcante has had more knockouts as of late than Bader and has also won 10 of his 12 fights by knockout. His last fight was a TKO win over Igor Pokrajac in November 2013. He has also scored knockouts of Muhammed Lawal and Yoel Romero.
Both fighters have shown suspect chins, so this fight may come down to whoever lands a big shot first.
Bader is a former Division I wrestler for Arizona State University, where he was a three-time Pac-10 champion and a two-time All-American.
Cavalcante is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who trains with Antonio Nogueira and Team Black House. Both fighters have solid grappling credentials.
Cavalcante showed the ability to get back up against Yoel Romero, who beat Cael Sanderson in freestyle wrestling. Bader might be able to take Cavalcante down, but the Brazilian will probably get right back up.
In addition, Cavalcante has shown major effectiveness in clinch grappling, and for that, he has the edge.
Bader is a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He has won four fights with submissions—one was to punches—but he has also been submitted twice.
Cavalcante is a black belt but only has one submission win, which was to punches. He did win his fight against Mike Kyle in 2012 with a guillotine choke, but the fight was later overturned to a no-contest.
He doesn't often use his submissions, but given Bader's past submission defense and Cavalcante's higher belt, he gets the edge.
Bader: He has to be careful all around. Cavalcante could submit him if the fight goes to the ground, knock him out if he rushes in and do some damage if Bader clinches with him. If the fight makes it into the second round, Bader should be able to control the action and pull out a decision.
Cavalcante: He only has to worry if the fight goes beyond the first five minutes. His cardio tends to wilt toward the end of the first round, and if he makes it into the second frame, Bader may have a huge advantage. In addition, Cavalcante should use his clinch game early to try and tire out his opponent.
If Bader fights smart, doesn't rush in and avoids the clinch, he'll have a good chance of winning this fight. He needs to be especially careful in the first round when Cavalcante will have the most pop on his punches and knees.
Cavalcante could absolutely win this one with a knockout in the first round, but I expect Bader to be ready for that. He should be prepared to weather the storm in the opening frame.
If he does that, then he'll pick Cavalcante apart for the remaining 10 minutes.
Prediction: Ryan Bader wins by unanimous decision