A year ago Ryan Bader was seen as the future of the light heavyweight division. An Ultimate Fighter champion with an accomplished wrestling career and knockout power, Bader was on the path to stardom when he ran into a planet-killing meteor by the name of Jon Jones in February. Five months later, Bader found himself being finished by over-the-hill Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz and is now looking at the prospect of a three-fight losing streak.
Bader will look to snap his skid against Jason Brilz this weekend at UFC 139 as part of a lineup headlined by Dan Henderson having it out with Mauricio Rua. “Darth” recently spoke about the match-up where he explained he plans to get back to his old ways rather than rely on his old ways with an improved approach to implementing them.
“I’m going to go back to being that same fighter, but a more technically sound fighter. I think I was missing some aggressiveness and was flat in the last couple fights. Looking at my training camps, I think I was over-training,” Bader began in an interview on the UFC’s website. “My fellow training partner Aaron Simpson felt the same way and now in his last fight he felt great with different people running our training camps. Before, we were just killing ourselves day in and day out and when it got closer to the fight we felt like we had to put more and more in, which just beat our bodies down. Now, we’ve got the right formula in not over training and the right coaches. I’m ready for this fight and I’m excited. I want to go in there and get the win. I feel good. I feel like everything is in place. Mentally, I feel good and physically I feel I’m the best fighter that I have been since I first stepped into the Octagon.”
According to Bader, he’ll need to be every bit the fighter he was when racking up twelve consecutive wins to open up his career.
“Jason Brilz, every fight he is in, you know he is going to come after you for three rounds hard. There’s no quit in him at all,” the 28-year old explained of his adversary. “He had a great fight with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. We have a few common opponents in Eliot Marshall, (Eric) Schafer, and Nogueira, and he comes after you. He might not have the most technical standup, but he has power in his hands and every punch he throws is hard. You don’t want to take too many of those. He obviously has a good wrestling background and good submissions. He’s a dangerous opponent and I’m ready for him.”
Ready indeed, with Bader stating, “The fighter I am today, I would destroy myself even a year ago.”
“I guess you don’t realize it because you are in here every day and you don’t realize how you’re growing as a fighter,” he continued. “It’s kind of like a parent who might not notice how much their kid is growing as opposed to someone who hasn’t seen them for a few months. I feel like that’s how it is in the gym, in the trenches, but you do realize it. Like I’ve had sparring partners that would beat my ass back in the day that I went with recently and I was like how did that ever happen? Your progression is about being around the right people and the right training partners and that’s what we have going on now. We’ve always had our core training partners and we’ve gotten even more now and a great coaching staff. I’ve brought in guys who are like Brilz that are great wrestlers. I feel better going into every camp, especially with these losses, and trying to get better for the next win. It forces you to get better. If you’re not trying to get better after a loss then you don’t need to be in this game.”
Fans can catch Bader vs. Brilz on the Spike TV preliminary portion of the UFC 139 broadcast starting at 8:00 PM EST. Bader holds an overall record of 12-2 with wins of Nogueira and Keith Jardine among others.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC