At the recent UFC 119: “Mir vs. Cro Cop” event, surging Light Heavyweight star and winner of Season 8 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality TV show Ryan Bader scored the biggest win of his young career when he defeated veteran Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. The win was Bader’s twelfth fight in his three-year career, and preserved his unbroken win-streak. However, controversy has begun to find its way into the discussion of “Darth Bader” and his big win, with many thinking that “Little Nog” maybe should have earned the decision nod, or at the very least, that the fight itself wasn’t all that exciting. Now that Bader is most likely looking at a match with fellow upstart Jon Jones, here’s what he had to say regarding the future of his career.
Courtesy of Sherdog.com (and MMA Mania for providing the text recap): “I’m getting there, I’m young in the sport and I’m in no rush. 205, there’s a bunch of tough guys and the title’s gonna keep rotating. Anything can happen, we’re powerful, quick guys and I see [the title] changing hands a few times. I’m not really rushing into anything, just taking it one fight at a time. You can’t start looking towards a title shot, you gotta look at here and now. I got through Nogueira, that’s what I was focusing on the whole time. Who knows who’s next and we’ll figure it out from there.”
I respect Bader for keeping a level head and not getting too ahead of himself, especially when you consider the firings of recent young, promising athletes like Efrain Escudero and Todd Duffee. Bader has plenty of potential in the UFC’s ever-expanding and super-stacked Light Heavyweight division, and I think he’s already a “dark horse” candidate for a title shot. A big victory over Jonny Bones would definitely put him firmly “into the mix”.
The fight with Bones makes the most sense by far, so I think it’s going to happen sooner rather than later. Both men have never been defeated in the Octagon (Jon Jones’ only loss came via DQ). Both men are young and very dynamic fighters, seemingly well-versed in all the major areas of the MMA. Even though Bader’s bout with Nogueira wasn’t all that it could have been, both men are also very entertaining fighters when they’re at their best.
But I have to tell you, fans and friends…if the Bader that fought “Little Nog” shows up against Jonny Bones, it’s going to be a quick night for “Darth”. Bader got in some good Ground and Pound and always seemed to have the advantage on average, so while it was a close fight, I’m one of the ones that thinks that Bader did deserve the win. But he fought a very weird fight, which honestly bordered on boring at times. And when was the last time you saw Jon Jones in a boring fight? When was the last time he didn’t go out guns-glazing and looking to lay the hurtin’ on his opponent? When was the last time he made it seem as if his hype may not have been fully, completely justified? It’s certainly been quite a while…if ever.
When it all comes right down to it, I think Jones is ready to compete against the best in the world and I can’t say the same for Bader. Bader has some good victories and some very entertaining fights, but the battle with “Little Nog” proved that he still has quite a ways to go. Meanwhile, Jones has seemingly been wrecking everyone in sight. I think Jones’ wrestling is just as good as Bader’s, his ground and pound is just as good if not better, and his striking is unquestionably better. I learned my lesson after I predicted that Vladimir Matyushenko would beat him. I’m never again going to bet against Jonny Bones.
But what about you, fans and friends? What do you think the future holds for Ryan Bader, and if the showdown with Jones is his next fight, who do you see winning and how?