By giving Ovince Saint Preux a 25-mintute lesson in wrestling 101, Ryan Bader proved he is more than just a gatekeeper in the light heavyweight division at UFC Fight Night 47.
The former Arizona State NCAA Division I All-American wrestler once again ditched the sloppy standup and continued to rely on his wrestling roots to regain traction in a crowded division.
This is what we learned from Bader’s decision victory over St. Preux in Saturday night’s main event.
What We’ll Remember About This Fight
It certainly wasn’t the most exciting fight on the card, but Bader’s ability to remain composed and stick with his wrestling shows incredible growth and maturity.
St. Preux made things difficult on the feet in the open by utilizing a lot of feints and quickly covering distance. Bader nullified the former football player’s explosiveness by patiently waiting for openings to counter and constantly transitioning between striking and takedowns.
St. Preux still looked green against a veteran opponent. He was never able to settle into a rhythm and looked relatively uncomfortable throughout the fight. The brunt of his offense relied heavily on swinging haymakers out of an unguarded stance.
What We Learned from Ryan Bader
As long as he sticks to his wrestling, Bader remains a viable threat at 205 pounds.
He still needs to shore up holes in his striking and perhaps aim to be more effective with his ground-and-pound. Outside of those two things, Bader has the skills necessary to be a serious contender at light heavyweight.
It’s easy to forget that his only losses have come at the hands of Jon Jones, Lyoto Machida, Tito Ortiz and Glover Teixeira. He nearly defeated Teixeira, if not for being overzealous and getting caught up in wild standup exchanges.
What We Learned from Ovince Saint Preux
St. Preux has a lot of potential, but he isn’t quite ready for the UFC spotlight.
In his first ever UFC main event bout, St. Preux tried to force everything and appeared too gun-happy. Every punch was thrown with reckless abandonment, and there wasn’t any real effort to set up any offense.
St. Preux’s gas tank was running on empty for most of the fight, which made it easier for Bader to set up takedowns and ride out the clock from top position. There also wasn’t much effort from St. Preux in utilizing his jab, which proved to be extremely effective the rare times it was actually thrown.
As a developing fighter, St. Preux should be able to chalk this bout up as a learning experience.
What’s Next for Ryan Bader
With a win over St. Preux and former Strikeforce champ Rafael Cavalcante, Bader has earned the right to test himself against a top-five light heavyweight.
What’s Next for Ovince Saint Preux
It’s back to the drawing board for St. Preux. A return bout against a top-15 opponent like Cavalcante or Jimi Manuwa should be a stiff enough test to get his career back on the upswing.