by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Six weeks in the Ultimate Fighter house. Wins over Kyle Kingsbury, Tom Lawlor and Eliot Marshall. Tainted fruit, a cling wrapped bed, and Junie Browning. But after all that, the ends justify the means as Ryan Bader gets his chance to close out “The Ultimate Fighter” season 8 this Saturday night as he faces Vinny Magalhaes in the finals of the light heavyweight division.
With only one obstacle left in front of him, Bader is excited about the chance to be the latest addition to the TUF champions list, but he knows that his focus has still has to ultimately fall on his opponent first.
“You’ve got to focus on the fight and, obviously, I kind of went through it and I see myself as that champion, the TUF champion, and going through the fight and what I’m going to do,” Bader told MMAWeekly Radio recently. “But you’ve got to go in there and do it first.”
One objective that Bader has taken upon himself to do in the upcoming fight is prove that his win over Eliot Marshall to get into the finals wasn’t his best performance. He’s happy that he gets to compete with that bout still burned in the fans’ minds.
“I’m glad I get to fight a week after that fight aired,” Bader commented. “I got off the show and I told some people that one fight wasn’t my best fight for sure and I hadn’t even seen the fight. I just knew in the back of my head. You’re in the fight, you don’t remember a lot of what’s happening, but I knew it was going to be one of these boring fights, so I’m glad I get the fight (at the finale) a week later.”
Standing across from Bader on Saturday night will be Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace Vinny Magalhaes, who pulled off two quick submissions in his last two fights to make it to the finale. The former All-American wrestler is well aware of his opponent’s considerable ground skills and what he has to do to avoid the submission.
“He pulls guard pretty well, so you never know if it’s going to go down to the ground. So you know I’ve been working on my sub defense. One thing about Vinny is he’s very, very good on the ground, so I can’t sit there like I did (against Marshall),” Bader said. “I’ve got to be hitting him in the face constantly or getting out of there. But you never know, I get down there I might feel fine.”
Looking back on The Ultimate Fighter experience, Bader says if he had it to do all over again he probably would. But the TUF 8 journey isn’t over yet, and Ryan Bader still has one more road to cross on Saturday night.