Ryan Bader vs. Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante
Round 1: Cavalcante lands first with an inside leg kick. Bader moves in with a kick to the body. Cavalcante inches forward. Bader changes levels and takes Cavalcante down. Cavalcante gets to his feet but Bader delivers knees to his legs from behind. Bader elevates Cavalcante and takes him down, but Cavalcante immediately gets back to his feet. Bader presses him against the cage. Bader continues to drive knees into the legs of Cavalcante. He keeps tripping out Cavalcante’s leg for takedowns, but Cavalcante keeps getting back up. They separate at the midway mark. Bader moves in with his jab. Cavalcante steps in with a left hook. Cavalcante delivers a stiff jab. Bader drives forward with a powerful double-leg takedown. Cavalcante works to stand and Bader lands left hands. Bader lands hard shots to the body. Cavalcante covers up. Bader pulls his leg back and drives forward with a knee to the body at the bell. MMAWeekly scores the round 10-9 for Bader.
Round 2: Cavalcante takes the center of the cage. He lands a spinning back kick to the body. Bader goes upstairs with a kick, but Cavalcante blocks it. Bader looks for a takedown, but Cavalcante stuffs it. Cavalcante presses forward. They clinch. Bader presses Cavalcante against the cage. They separate. Bader drives forward and takes Cavalcante down. He lands an elbow, and Cavalcante rolls to stand. Bader drives knees into his thighs and to the tailbone. Cavalcante stands and they separate. Cavalcante misses with a big left hook. Bader goes to the body with a right hand and circles away. Cavalcante is stationary. He lands a right hand. It was his first good shot of the fight. Bader bounces on the outside. He steps in with a jab. Bader lands a hard right hand to the body and changes levels and takes Cavalcante down. The round ends. It’s all Bader thus far. MMAWeekly scores the round 10-9 for Bader.
Round 3: Cavalcante’s corner tells him he hasn’t fought yet. “Hit him. Move forward,” they told him between the rounds. Cavalcante goes move forward. He lands a combination. Bader immediately tries to get the fight to the ground. Cavalcante stuffs the takedown attempt. He presses forward with punches. Bader drops down for a takedown. Cavalcante stuffs it and has Bader in a front headlock. Bader works to stand, and Cavalcante delivers elbows. Bader presses Cavalcante against the cage. Cavalcante shoves him away and moves forward. But he misses with his punches. Bader ties him up. The referee separates them after a few seconds. Bader works hard to get the fight to the ground. Cavalcante avoids it briefly but eventually gets put on his back with two minutes remaining in the round. Bader delivers elbows to Cavalcante’s ribs. Cavalcante gets back to guard. Bader continues to land shots. Bader peppers Cavalcante with punches to the body and head. The round ends. MMAWeekly scores it 10-9 for Bader.
The judges score the fight for Bader by unanimous decision. All three scorecards read 30-27.
“I thought he would come out more explosively in the first round but he wasn’t able to turn it on until the third. Going into this fight I knew that I was going to have to put him against the fence and grind him out. Feijao is one of the hardest hitters in the division and I wanted to take away that one punch KO power. I had to make it an ugly fight tonight and wrestle him. I was able to stick to the game plan. I threw a lot of jabs and kept moving because he can end it with one shot. My cardio was great thanks to my coaches and an awesome training camp. I wish I could’ve let loose a little more for the fans but I had to look for the win out there tonight.”