On Saturday night at UFC 174, No. 9-ranked Ryan Bader faced off against No. 11-ranked Rafael Cavalcante, the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, to see who would continue to climb up the light heavyweight ladder. It was a completely controlling performance for Bader, who took the unanimous-decision victory 30-27 on all scorecards.
What We'll Remember About This Fight
In the first round, Bader had a huge driving takedown. Then toward the end of the round, he landed a powerful knee to Cavalcante's body. Aside from that, there was nothing too memorable. Bader controlled the fight in the clinch and on the ground, except for about a minute in the third round when "Feijao" looked like he may have rocked Bader.
What We Learned About Bader
He is continuing to improve, as his clinch game, takedowns and ground-and-pound all looked better than before. Feijao was a tough opponent and may very well be the best name on Bader's resume now. It did look like Feijao hurt Bader early in the third round, so he still has to work on protecting his chin.
What We Learned About Cavalcante
There were questions about Cavalcante's cardio coming into this fight, and everybody who questioned it was right to do so. Feijao looked gassed after the first round—granted, he did take some hard body shots—and he was never able to muster any kind of solid, consistent offense. He could have had a shot in the third round if he'd had something left in the tank.
What's Next for Bader?
Occasionally, Joe Silva likes to match up fighters coming off wins from the same cards, so Ovince Saint Preux is a possibility. Saint Preux was ranked No. 12 before his win over Ryan Jimmo and will probably jump into the Top 10 on Monday.
If not Saint Preux, then Bader could meet Anthony Johnson, if he comes out victorious against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in July.
Or maybe he could face Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Bader has a lot of options moving forward.
What's Next for Cavalcante?
Cavalcante could face Jimmo next, but if Jimmo suffered a broken arm as he said on the broadcast, then he'll probably be out for a while.
If Johnson loses to Nogueira, Cavalcante could face "Rumble" next.
Phil Davis, who recently lost to Johnson, is a third option.