by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
Ryan “Darth” Bader made his professional mixed martial arts debut on March 31, 2007, and within a year’s time the former Arizona State wrestling stand out had racked up a 7-0 record heading into The Ultimate Fighter season 8. With his technical knockout victory over Vinicius Magalhaes in the season finale to become The Ultimate Fighter, Bader showed he’s not just a wrestler anymore.
“What I love about having that good wrestling base is that if I want to take him down, I can take him down if I’m losing on the feet. But, like the fight I had last Saturday, if I don’t want to go to the ground, which I didn’t, I can keep it from going there also. So, I just love having that wrestling aspect,” Bader told MMAWeekly Radio. “It’s one of the hardest things to learn. If you already come in there a well accomplished wrestler, the stand up and jiu-jitsu game is kind of, you know, it’s still hard to learn, but it’s a little easier than teaching that fifteen years of wrestling to somebody.”
Heading into the bout with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, Magalhaes, Bader had no intentions on taking the fight to the ground. “The game plan was to keep it kind of in the center of the cage and just pop-shot him here and there and try and land my right hand,” said the two-time Division I All-American wrestler. “That was the game plan and I went in there and it went exactly how we predicted. Everything worked out perfect on Saturday.”
“The whole training camp we worked out with me not even going for takedowns. Like I would be in MMA sparring with fresh guys coming in and I just had it in my head that a takedown wasn’t even in the cards,” explained the Arizona Combat Sports trained light heavyweight. “Even if I was getting my butt kicked in the stand up game, I just had to take it. We were just training and conditioning my body and whatnot. I wasn’t even thinking about it. That was the game plan, to stand up the whole time.”
The game plan worked flawlessly with Bader landing a right hand that sent Magalhaes to the canvas where the 25-year old fighter finished with a series of hammer fists. “I felt that it hit pretty hard, and after the fight he told me that I hit him in the temple. My right hand is pretty heavy, and that overhand right just kind of glanced off his wrist and hit him in the temple,” said Bader.
“Right when it hit I knew that I had him, if not knocked out, I had him hurt pretty good. And then I saw him fall and I got pretty excited. But that thing clicked in my brain that said, wait, he might be baiting you. Don’t run in there. So, I just kind of tried to gorilla stance over him and and throw hammer fists,” he continued. “I was just trying to throw as many punches as I could just to get the ref to stop it. He was curled up on the ground. I knew it was going to end at that point.”
Bader plans to take three weeks off from training to let some injuries heal up before heading back into the gym. The Ultimate Fight 8 light heavyweight winner commented, “I’m going to take a good three weeks off from doing nothing because I had some injuries going into the fight that I just want to heal up…I was going to try to heal up so I’m 100% before I go back in there and go really hard.”