However, that hype train got derailed by a fighter on the same path to stardom by the name of Jon Jones.
As I wrote right after the fight, Bader was pretty much dominated in every aspect by Jones before succumbing to a guillotine choke in the second round.
The odds makers had Bader as the underdog going into the fight, and the results show they called that one correctly. Jones was awarded a title shot after the win, since Rashad Evans had to pull out of his UFC 128 showdown with champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua due to injury.
I have one question. If Bader were to have beaten Jones, would he have been granted the same title shot?
The loss to Jones wasn’t surprising to me, but I didn’t really expect Bader to get dominated the way he did. However, this is what I’ve found after I have taken a step back to analyze everything in hindsight:
-Bader was (5-0) prior to the loss to Jones. Four of the fighters Bader has defeated are no longer in the UFC.
-It was thought that Bader’s biggest strength was his wrestling background, but his wrestling hasn’t looked top notch as of late. Jones took him down at will, and Bader struggled to take down Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at times. His gas tank has also been an issue.
-Bader has big power with his striking, but he doesn’t put his punches together well. He doesn’t mix in kicks often with his striking either.
I respect any fighter that gets in that cage for my entertainment, and I’m not trying to knock Bader at all. I like him as a fighter. However, it appears that he could have been manufactured in some way with match-making.
His biggest win is against Nogueira, who had just went life and death with Jason Brilz. Brilz is no slouch, but he’s not a contender in the UFC light heavyweight division either. I suppose Nogueira’s upcoming fight against Tito Ortiz will give us a good barometer to gauge where he is in his career.
I have to question the tools that Bader has and how they stack up with the top light heavyweights in the UFC. I know I said that Franklin fought well enough against Griffin to avoid being the perennial gatekeeper of the division. However, I think Rich Franklin is the perfect fight to better test where Ryan Bader stands right now. The fight makes perfect sense with both coming off of losses from the same event. Franklin has good stamina, solid striking, and decent take-down defense.
Is Ryan Bader still a contender after losing to Jon Jones at UFC 126? A fight against Rich Franklin might answer that question.