by Brian Lopez-Benchimol – MMAWeekly.com
Keeping the momentum going, undefeated light heavyweight prospect Ryan Bader will return for his fourth UFC appearance when he steps in the Octagon at UFC 110 in Sydney, Australia.
A winner of the eighth season of the popular “Ultimate Fighter” series, Bader (10-0) will look to continue his undefeated streak and extend himself to four in a row inside the Octagon when he meets perennial contender, “The Dean of Mean,” Keith Jardine.
“With every name (the UFC) gives, it’s like ‘ok, who am I fighting next? Who are they going to give me?’ There’s a little nervousness, a little excitement, so when they said Keith Jardine, that definitely was exciting,” said Bader while speaking on the MMAWeekly Radio show.
“He’s coming off of a couple of losses, but he’s a super tough guy and he’s been around. He’s fought the big name guys and he’s definitely the upper echelon in the 205-pound division. I thought it was perfect for me. I think it’s a good fight for me. It’s the perfect next step in my career, so it’s a well welcomed fight.”
Wanting to move himself further along in the stacked pecking order that is the UFC’s light heavyweight division – where such fighters as Thiago Silva, Rashad Evans, Brandon Vera, and Quinton Jackson, all of whom Keith Jardine has fought against at one point or another – Bader is continuing his climb towards greatness.
“If you look at (Keith’s) last five fights or so, it’s just everybody – the who’s who of the 205-pound division,” said 26-year-old Bader.
“He’s been in there with those top guys and I have to go in there and I have to go in there and prove myself and I think this is the perfect fight for it.”
Dangerous from the start, Jardine always brings an awkward, sometimes confusing style to the cage. What many have dubbed a “herky-jerky” approach to the stand-up realm, Jardine’s timing and unorthodox stance has been the Achilles heel to many fighters in the past, but Bader will not play the victim.
“He’s got a real awkward standup style. He throws people off,” said Bader while speaking with MMAWeekly.com.
“I think when people really try and get into his rhythm, that’s when he really can capitalize on it, so we’re not really looking to do that. We’re just looking to go in there and implement my game plan and not really, just fall into what he wants to do.”
The three-time Pac-10 wrestling champion is well aware of the arsenal that Jardine represents, leg-kicks being his specialty. Since favoring the stand-up approach in his most recent performances and Jardine’s ability, or the lack thereof, the takedown presents a good opportunity for “Darth” Bader to showcase his strengths and to notch himself into the upper tier of fighters in the 205-pound division.
“He loves that leg-kick. He thinks he can slow me down with a couple of leg-kicks and kind of dead me leg up a little bit, but he’s got to be careful,” said the former Division I All American.
“Those takedowns can win the rounds for sure. Either on the feet or what not, we’re going back and forth, he throws the leg-kick, I catch it and take him down. He can be down there for a while getting ground and pounded and losing that round.
“Wrestling is going to be a factor.
“It’s really one of those fights where I can let loose and not really have a strict plan.”