Ryan Bader | “Darth”
Ht: 6’2 – Wt: 205 – Age: 29
Born: Nevada, USA
Fights out of: Tempe, AZ, USA
Team: Power MMA | Xtreme Couture
Overall Record: 14-3
UFC Record: 7-3
Ryan Bader was the season 8 winner of The Ultimate Fighter. Bader wrestled collegiately at Arizona State University, twice earning All-American honors before making his transition to mixed martial arts in 2007. Bader won his first 7 fights on the independent circuit before being selected to compete for a spot on TUF 8. Bader defeated Kyle Kingsbury in the preliminary rounds via 2nd round submission to earn a spot in the TUF house. Bader immediately looked to be the season favorite thanks to his wrestling and powerful right hand. Bader showcased his power in his next fight, knocking out Tom Lawlor in the 1st round. Bader moved on to defeat Eliot Marshall in the semi-finals to earn him a spot in the TUF 8 Finale opposite Vinny Magalhaes. Bader easily overwhelmed Magalhaes in the striking department, winning via 1st round TKO. Bader struggled a bit in his next couple of fights, but handily earned decision victories over Carmelo Marrero and Eric Schafer. Bader took a step up in competition as he faced off against veteran striker Keith Jardine at UFC 110. It was a close fight throughout, but Bader eventually was able to score the knockout victory in the 3rd round. Bader was quickly rising up the UFC light heavyweight ranks as he faced another stiff test in PRIDE veteran Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Bader struggled to match Nogueira on the feet, so he relied heavily on his wrestling to grind out a close decision victory. Bader moved on to face fellow top prospect Jon Jones at UFC 126. Bader struggled to combat Jones’ reach and quickness and was eventually tapped out in the 2nd round. Following Bader’s first career loss, it seemed as if the UFC was looking to give Bader an easy rebound win against struggling former champion Tito Ortiz. Ortiz had not won a fight in several years and was likely on the verge of retirement coming into the fight. In a stunning upset, Ortiz clipped Bader with a punch and was able to sink in the guillotine choke for the upset victory. Bader’s contender status was gone as he moved on to face Jason Brilz at UFC 139. Bader bounced back, scoring a knockout victory in the bout’s opening seconds.
Ryan Bader fought 3 times in 2011, struggling to an 1-2 overall record.
Bader faced off against fellow top prospect Jon Jones at UFC 126. Jones took the center of the octagon and soon shot in for the takedown, though Bader threatened with a guillotine. Jones stayed calm and eventually popped his head out. Jones began to take control of the round soon thereafter as he nearly locked on a north-south choke before throwing down some heavy elbows from the top position. Jones opened up the 2nd round with a few punches and kicks that kept Bader on the outside. Jones eventually got the fight to the floor where he locked on a guillotine that quickly forced Bader to tap out.
Bader looked to rebound from his first career loss by facing struggling former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz at UFC 132. They traded a few glancing strikes early before Ortiz stunningly dropped Bader with a short right hand. Ortiz quickly swarmed and locked on a guillotine forcing Bader to tap.
Bader was rumored to be fighting for his job after suffering back-to-back losses as he faced off against wrestler Jason Brilz at UFC 139. Bader looked to strike early, and after landing a few punches, dropped Brilz with a big right hand. The ref quickly stepped in to stop the fight.
Ryan Bader’s top prospect status definitely took a hit in 2011. Bader has struggled a bit with his confidence as of late. He has shied away from being hit, which is not a good sign when considering the top contenders in the UFC light heavyweight division. Despite his recent setbacks, Bader still has to be considered one of the rising stars of the thin light heavyweight division. His wrestling already separates him from the mid-level fighters on the roster and his striking is rapidly improving. Bader has power in his hands and has the potential to be a perennial title contender at 205 lbs. With aging veterans sitting atop the light heavyweight division, it would be foolish to discard Bader’s potential as a possible heir apparent to Jon Jones, should Jones eventually move up to heavyweight.
Ryan Bader Fight Record
Overall Record: 13-2
2008-2011 Record: 7-2
2011 Record: 1-2
Win | Jason Brilz | KO | Rd 1 | UFC | 11/19/2011
Loss | Tito Ortiz | Sub | Rd 1 | UFC | 07/02/2011
Loss | Jon Jones | Sub | Rd 2 | UFC | 02/25/2011
2010 Record: 2-0
Win | Antonio Rogerio Nogueira | Dec | Rd 3 | UFC | 09/25/2010
Win | Keith Jardine | KO | Rd 3 | UFC | 02/20/2010
2009 Record: 2-0
Win | Eric Schafer | Dec | Rd 3 | UFC | 10/24/2009
Win | Carmelo Marrero | Dec | Rd 3 | UFC | 04/01/2009
2008 Record: 2-0
Win | Vinny Magalhaes | Tko | Rd 1 | UFC | 12/13/2008
Win | Buckley Acosta | Sub | Rd 1 | | 04/05/2008