It wasn’t long ago that Ryan Bader was receiving all the praise as being one of the top young prospects in the light heavyweight division after his run to win the eighth season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Now, just a few years later, Bader is poised to make a run at the title in 2011, but the hype going into his next fight is focused on his opponent, Jon Jones.
A phenomenal specimen in his young career, Jon Jones has proven to be a tough fighter with enough flash and flare to make everyone ‘ooh and ahh’ when he performs. But while Bader believes Jones is a highly talented fighter, he thinks Jones’ past opponents made a major mistake.
One he has no intention of replicating.
“I think people are fighting him a little scared and going out there and just waiting for him to do something instead of pressing the action,” Bader told MMAWeekly Radio about how people are fighting Jones. “He’s a talented fighter, but I don’t think his boxing’s all that great, he does have decent kicks, I don’t know how much power are on them, he has great takedown defense, so we have our game plan and I’m sure he has his.”
Jones has shown a mix of strengths throughout all of his fights thus far in the UFC. The New York native has faced many different styles during his career with the UFC including wrestlers like Matt Hamill and Vladdy Matyushenko.
Still, Bader doesn’t believe Jones has faced a wrestler like him yet.
“I have heavy hands and I mix that up with my wrestling. I’m not necessarily going to go out there and look to put him down immediately or anything like that,” Bader revealed. “I know he hasn’t been hit too much in his fights. He got hit probably the most in the Jake O’Brien fight, when Jake was just being real tight with him with his boxing, going in for the shot every once in a while, but Jones showed great takedown defense.”
The difference that Bader brings into the fight is legitimate knockout power. Bader has finished a few opponents with his strikes, most notably TKO wins over Keith Jardine and Vinny Magalhaes. The former Arizona State All-American has also beaten past opponents with his stifling takedowns and ground control.
“I have the ability to knock him out or take him down, so he kind of has to respect both,” said Bader.
One of the biggest things that has been talked about heading into the light heavyweight showdown are the creative moves Jon Jones seems to be able to pull off in almost all of his fights. From spinning back elbows to bone-crunching takedowns, Jones is innovative as much as he his talented.
Bader, however, believes that some of that flash could come back to bite him when the two square off on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
“I just feel he leaves a lot of openings when he’s doing that kind of stuff,” Bader said about Jones’ creative moves. “I’ve got some heavy hands and if he’s flying around with his hands down, I could clip him and put him down.”
“I’m the underdog in this fight and he has all the hype and everybody behind him saying he’s the next greatest light heavyweight, he’s going to win the championship,” Bader stated. “I plan on going out there and derailing all that hype and taking that with me.”