Ryan Bader reminded the world of his presence as a contender in the light heavyweight division Saturday night by routing Ovince Saint Preux in the main event of UFC Fight Night 47.
There is something to be said about experience in big moments.
Bader has competed against the best the light heavyweight division has to offer. He even headlined a UFC Fight Night card a year ago against Glover Teixeira. Saint Preux, on the other hand, entered Saturday night’s headliner as a relatively raw and unfinished product.
It was evident from the start that the former University of Tennessee football player was in over his head. He appeared incredibly tense throughout the fight and opted to swing wild punches instead of properly setting up his striking offense. He also kept his hands dangerously low in an effort to thwart Bader’s takedown attempts.
Bader, a bona fide veteran, took advantage of Saint Preux’s inexperience by remaining patient on the feet and constantly capitalizing on opportunities to drag the fight to the floor. By the end of the first round, it was obvious Saint Preux’s cardio suffered from a huge adrenaline dump, as he quickly let off the gas and kept glancing at the clock.
It wasn’t the most exciting performance, but Bader’s ability to secure takedowns and ride out time on top was enough to earn the nod of the judges.
“For a while there, I kind of got away from [my wrestling] a little bit,” Bader admitted at the post-fight press conference. “I feel like all my losses are when I tried to go out there and exclusively kickbox with guys. You know like Glover, Lyoto [Machida], Jon Jones. I need to mix everything up.”
Bader’s renewed philosophy on fighting could land him a shot against a Top Five light heavyweight contender in his next outing. As for Saint Preux, the 31-year-old is still a young and developing star.
A little more time and experience could yield different results in the future.