Saturday is a big, big day for Ryan Bader, as if he can defeat Phil Davis at UFC on FOX 14, the powerful wrestler could possibly move into the promotion’s top five, light-heavyweight ranks.
Bader heads into the bout having won three straight fights, which has been a great way to rebound from the stoppage loss he suffered versus Glover Teixeira in 2013. Bader has cruised to decision wins over Anthony Perosh, Rafael Cavalcante and most recently Ovince St. Preux, and his wrestling game played a big part in his recent success.
While speaking to UFC.com about this Saturday’s fight with Davis, however, Bader let it be known that he’ll be drawing from his entire skill set in Stockholm.
“I feel healthy finally,” Bader said. “The last couple fights I was dealing with that hand issue. I went into the OSP fight with a fractured hand and had to fight differently, so I’m just looking to go in there and not only win, but let all my tools show and let my hands go and show everything in my arsenal.”
Yes, as Bader showed in his wins over the likes of Keith Jardine, Jason Brilz and Vladimir Matyushenko, he is far more than just a take down specialist. It will be interesting to see how Bader performs, as while he’s gone 11-4 in the UFC to date, he has come up short against the upper echelon of the division in fights with Teixeira, Lyoto Machida and Jon Jones. There was also his 2011 loss to Tito Ortiz.
“My last couple fights, I was fighting guys that are around the top ten and beating them, and I said I need to beat these guys I’ve been losing to, these top five guys,” Bader noted. “And here it is. Here’s another chance that I have to prove that I belong with the top of the top. I’ve lost those key matches before and it’s not gonna happen this time.”
It’s also going to be fascinating to see how Davis does against Bader. “Mr. Wonderful” has scored several impressive wins in the Octagon to date, and is coming off a clear cut win over Teixeira, but both of his losses have come against men with developed wrestling pedigrees. In 2012, Davis lost via unanimous decision to Rashad Evans, and last April, he dropped a UD to Anthony Johnson.
UFC on FOX 14 will be hosted by Stockholm’s Tele2Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.
In the headliner, Alexander Gustafsson will take on fellow top contender, Anthony Johnson.