Ryan Bader vs. Ovince Saint Preux: A Full Head-to-Toe Breakdown
UFC Fight Night 47 is headlined on Saturday by No. 8-ranked light heavyweight Ryan Bader squaring off against No. 10-ranked contender Ovince Saint Preux.
Both of the 205-pound contenders are looking to make the jump into the title picture, and a win would put the victor in line for a bigger fight in his go-around.
Bader is on a two-fight win streak after a TKO loss to Glover Teixeira. Bader went the distance in both of those fights against Anthony Perosh and Rafael Cavalcante, but he was completely in control of both fights. Saint Preux has been making waves since Strikeforce and is on a five-fight win streak.
The main event to UFC Fight Night 47 should be a fantastic fight as both men need to look impressive. They will try to finish each other to state their case as a legitimate threat in the division.
Let's take a look at the head-to-toe breakdown for this Top 10 light heavyweight tilt.
The striking battle between Bader and Saint Preux will be the most curious case between the two fighters.
Of the two, Bader is the more polished striker. However, his striking is basic. Nothing Bader does is surprising. He sticks to the basics in his boxing. It is successful because he has very good power, and a lot of MMA fighters allow the basics to beat them.
Saint Preux also has good power, but he is not as refined. Regardless, I still give him the edge. Why?
He is more diverse than Bader. He adds in more kicks, knees and elbows. Bader can become predictable, and that will allow Saint Preux to dodge his blows more easily. Saint Preux will enjoy a five-inch reach advantage, and that is likely more with his kicks.
The unpredictability to his game gives him a slight edge.
Edge: Saint Preux
Saint Preux has a solid wrestling background, but Bader is the better grappler in this matchup.
Forget about his past credentials on the collegiate scene. Bader has taken his wrestling and transitioned it into MMA better than most. He mixes his attacks well. In his last two bouts he has 10 total takedowns.
When Bader is on point, he is one of the best light heavyweights in the world. Saint Preux is one of the more athletically gifted in the division but has yet to develop his skills into a complete fighter.
When it comes to straight grappling, you have to favor Bader.
Much like the striking category, St. Preux gets the edge here due to his versatility.
Bader's offensive submission game is as basic as his striking. He prefers to deliver ground-and-pound while maintaining top position. His submission defense is also a question mark. The saving grace for Bader is that his wrestling and top game nullify his opponents off their back.
With Saint Preux, we have seen some diverse submissions including a Von Flue choke that he put Nikita Krylov to sleep with at UFC 171. He continues to improve and evolve in his MMA game.
I simply like the more diverse fighter here. Saint Preux has shown that he will go for the obscure or more difficult submission instead of keeping to the basics. This will give him greater opportunity to catch Bader off guard.
Edge: Saint Preux
Bader's X-Factor: Striking Defense
Bader is very talented, but the one knock on him throughout his MMA career has been his chin.
In his defense, his two TKO/KO losses are to two of the very best—Lyoto Machida and Glover Teixeira. Regardless, his striking defense needs to be better on Saturday. He has a career 71 percent striking defense percentage.
Against a heavy-handed striker like Saint Preux, he needs to make sure his defense is tight.
Saint Preux's X-Factor: Maintain Distance
He will have the striking advantage against Bader, but he must continue to maintain the distance he wants in this fight. He cannot allow Bader to close the gap and begin to grind. That is a one-way ticket to a decision loss.
Saint Preux needs to fight in close when he is ready for that battle. When he initiates a clinch, that is the only time he should allow the distance to be closed.
He cannot allow Bader to dictate the distance in this fight.
Conventional wisdom will favor Bader in this fight.
Saint Preux should be someone that Bader can impose his wrestling on and grind out a win. After grinding on him for a couple of rounds, he will take the spring out of Saint Preux's step and then will be in complete control.
I just cannot get behind Bader. Against a dynamic and improving fighter in Saint Preux, I believe Bader will have significant problems.
Saint Preux's unorthodox game will allow him to tag Bader early in the fight. With all his power and Bader's suspect chin, he will rock the No. 8-ranked fighter and be able to finish the fight to make a big statement to the UFC brass.
Saint Preux announces himself to the upper echelon with a big showing in Maine.
Prediction: Saint Preux defeats Bader by TKO in the first round.