by Mitch Gobetz – MMAWeekly.com
Ryan Bader will make his long awaited debut in the Ultimate Fighting Championship on April 1 at Ultimate Fight Night 18, when he will take on Carmelo Marrero. Coming into the fight with an impressive 8-0 record, he wants to make his first official fight in the Octagon a victory.

Bader was a product of The Ultimate Fighter season 8, becoming the winner of the light heavyweight class. He impressed on the show with his excellent wrestling and dominating ground game.

Bader will be facing a similar type of fighter in Marrero, who is known for his slick jiu-jitsu skills. The Arizona native knew Marrero’s name fairly well considering his training partner had just fought him.

“I knew his name because one of my teammates fought him, Steve Steinbeiss, and I watched him live,” said Bader recently in an interview with MMAWeekly Radio. “That was his last fight and Steve’s last fight. I got to watch him live and go to a split decision with my training partner. That was nice to see that live and kind of take away what Steve had to say about him.

“I think it’s a good match up for me. Obviously, he’s a really tough fighter and it will be a tough fight, but I’m happy with the match-up for sure.”

After watching that fight, Bader gained a little more knowledge of his opponent’s movements and skills to look out for.

“I know that Carmelo took that on short notice, but I heard he was training for another fight. So it’s good to hear what Steve had to say,” he commented. “Steve took him down and he didn’t have much from his back and whatnot and Steve ended up sweeping him. You can play the whole game where you gauge yourself on another mutual guy, but it doesn’t work out like that. I’m definitely not taking him lightly.”

It seems that more often than not when two ground fighters end up tangling, many times it can turn into a stand-up affair. However, Bader knows where his strength lies and realizes that while the stand-up might be exciting, his job is to win. “You see a lot of these wrestlers go in and have success in the stand-up like Koscheck, but then get knocked out. You’re playing with fire there. You could be good, but at the same time, it’s not as developed as if you came up as a striker. You’re a wrestler first and foremost. I’m going to play the game where I want to be exciting, but I want to get the win and get paid.”

In fact, Bader has an excellent prognostication of how he sees this fight playing out. “I see the fight coming out and doing a little exchange on the feet and eventually every fight I’ve seen, he goes in for the shot with a trip. I see me stuffing that shot and putting him on his back or going in there and taking him down. You put a wrestler on his back and it’s a different world, so I’m just going to go in there and fight. I feel comfortable on the ground. I feel comfortable on the feet or wherever the fight goes really.”

Time and time again there have been fighters who step into the Octagon and can’t wait to get their title shot as soon as possible. Bader isn’t in any rush to get a title shot and has a rather honest assessment of where he feels he is in his career.

“I think I got to work my way up,” he stated. “I’d like to take the Rashad-Forrest route. I feel I need more experience. Whether that’s fighting lower tier guys, that’s fine with me. I wanna get in there and get the cage time and go from there. I’m not really looking like I want to get a title shot in this many years or anything like that. I just want to win against anyone they put in front of me.”