With back-to-back wins under his belt, against Jason Brilz, and most recently, Quinton Jackson, a win over Machida would further propel Bader up the light heavyweight rankings and move him one step closer to a potential title shot.
We know MMA math is a fallacy, however, it also can’t hurt Bader’s confidence, as he steps into the Octagon against Machida, knowing the opponent he most recently beat, Quinton Jackson, defeated Machida not that long ago.
A guest on Pro MMA Now Radio Network‘s “Inside the Cage Radio” with host Greg DeLong on Tuesday, Bader was asked if “Rampage’s” win over Machida provided a blueprint on how to beat an unorthodox striker like Machida.
“Yeah a little, bit. Styles make fights and I like to look at the fights that my opponent has fought a similar opponent such as myself,” Bader said. “I watch them all, but his [Machida's] last fight he was fighting Jones and he had to do different stuff because Jones is very long, unorthodox, so Machida is going to fight Jones differently than he fights a guy like Rampage.”
“He’s not going to run in and blitz Rampage as much like he did Jones, because with Jones he has to get in and negate that reach. With Rampage he was kind of picking his shots, was real hesitant because Rampage has some big power and the threat of takedowns. I like to watch fights where in the past Machida’s opponents kind of resemble my style. So we’ve been doing that a lot, I’ve been feeling great.”
Bader has also brought in a secret weapon to help him train specifically for Machida’s elusive karate style. The man’s name is Hiroshi Allen. He’s a seven time national champion and two-time Shotokan Karate world champion. His mother was also a two-time world champion and his father was the captain of the U.S. National Team. He’s been practicing his craft for 35 years now, and he is the same person Randy Couture brought in to mimic Machida when he fought him last year.
“He’s been great,” Bader said. “He comes in and we drill, we spar, he has the Machida stance, blitzes, the different kicks that he does, the trips. So I see it and I’m not surprised. We’ve been drilling quite a bit with him. He’s actually been really really good to have in addition to camp. … I feel like if I hadn’t done that I’d be surprised in the Octagon, but I’ve been through it.”
“He’s done everything that Machida does and he brings that into the Octagon when we spar, so I’ve seen it hundreds of times. It’s not going to be the first time when I step in the Octagon that I’ve seen different stuff from Machida, so I feel good and I feel good about this fight and I’m ready.”
Bader has also been working with another world class striker for this fight, kickboxing legend Rick Roufus. ”I try to do once a week as far as bring somebody in, and we spar a couple days at the end of the week,” Bader said. “I’ve been rotating Rick Roufus, he’s here in Arizona, he’s a southpaw. He’s fighting in K-1 in September. So I’ve been doing a lot with him.”
In the past we have seen when wrestlers or jiu-jitsu players start relying so much on their new-found striking skills they forget about their bread and butter. As a three-time PAC-10 champion and two-time All-American, Bader was asked if he has to be careful so he does not get away from that wrestling base that got him this far in the first place.
“Yeah absolutely.” Bader explained, “Sometimes I find myself doing so much stand up and so much work as far as what Machida is doing and this and that, that you kind of have to step back and say, ‘Hey, don’t forget that I have this wrestling.’ ”
“We do practice wrestling quite a bit and implement that in the cage. When these guys are here I can usually take them down pretty easily, as far as new training partners, but I like to stand with them and kind of just get that whole dynamic and all that kind of stuff. I definitely mix those in. But I do have to remind myself a lot of times, yes you do have this to fall back on.”
“But I want to be, just in case I can’t take you down or just in case something goes wrong, I’m going to be just as good on my feet and ready for anything he throws at us. But at the end of the day, when you’re in the fight, that’s going to come out too, those takedowns. I’ve been doing it for so long sometimes I don’t even think about doing it, my body just reacts. So if it’s there I’m definitely going to take it. But we’re going to be ready as far as in the stand-up department too and we feel really good about it.”
Fans can follow UFC light heavyweight Ryan Bader on Twitter at @RyanBader. Listen to Bader’s entire interview and the complete July 17th episode of Inside the Cage Radio on The Pro MMA Now Radio Network.