Ryan "Darth" Bader made a tidal-wave size impact on the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Winning the light heavyweight crown by defeating Vinny Magalhaes on TUF, the sky was the limit for Bader.
Riding a tremendous wave of momentum, "Darth" rattled off four straight victories inside the famed Octagon including impressive wins over UFC veterans Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Keith Jardine.
Ultimately, suffering his first defeat as a professional at UFC 126 by the current light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, Bader was quickly brought down to Earth and forced to re-establish himself within the UFC light heavyweight division.
The first step in climbing back up the title contention ladder will take place this Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada as Bader takes on "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" Tito Ortiz.
Ortiz, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, has not had his hand raised in victory since defeating a fledgling Ken Shamrock back in 2006.
Overcoming personal issues and various injuries, Ortiz will be entering the Octagon for the first time since being defeated by Matt Hamill at UFC 121 in October of 2010.
A former three-time Pac-10 amateur wrestling champion, Bader was teammates with current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, as well as CB Dollaway and Aaron Simpson.
Who will win in this light heavyweight showdown?
Ryan Bader's grappling pedigree is second to none. He is a tremendous wrestler with excellent take-down defense and is successful on 42 percent of his take-down attempts.
Possessing tremendous power and strength, this 6'2" 205-pound mixed martial artist has excellent physical tools necessary to dominate within the grappling department.
Additionally, Bader's stand-up skills are ever-improving. Landing 36 percent of his total strikes thrown, "Darth" is evolving into an all-around striker from his feet.
Defensively, he is much more solid, avoiding 76 percent of the total strikes attempted on him.
Tito Ortiz is not a flashy fighter. He will stand and trade in the pocket and look for take-down attempts throughout the entire fight. Ortiz is a skilled counter-striker and will capitalize on any openings provided by Bader.
For Bader to defeat Ortiz, he must manhandle "The Hungtington Beach Bad Boy" by clinching with Ortiz and delivering solid short punches from the inside.
Wearing down Ortiz will minimize his movement providing Bader the opportunity to land that destructive right hand.
Additionally, Bader needs to remain active in the stand-up game by varying his combinations and adjusting his striking angles.
Lastly, even though Ortiz is an excellent wrestler himself, he is not in the same class as Bader. If "Darth" chooses to take this fight to the mat, he will need to set up the take-down attempts with crisp, tactical combinations from his feet.
To make a run at Jon Jones's title, Ryan "Darth" Bader needs to thoroughly destroy Tito Ortiz and send "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" packing for retirement.
If Bader can execute his game plan, he will once again be amongst the top 10 within the UFC light heavyweight divison.
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