The UFC on FOX 18 main event will take place on Saturday night at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. It will be headlined by the likely UFC light heavyweight number one contender fight between Anthony Johnson and Ryan Bader.
Bader (20-4) is the season eight winner of The Ultimate Fighter and has won five consecutive fights since losing to Glover Teixeira in 2013. Teixeira is similar to Johnson in the striking department with huge power and good takedown defense. Bader has been knocked out twice in two of his four career losses, against the aforementioned Teixeira, and against former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida.
Bader has improved his stand up game quite a bit over the years to go with his strong wrestling base. He has defeated the likes of Rashad Evans, Phil Davis, Ovince St. Preux, and Rafael Cavalcante. Ironically, all of those fighters except Phil Davis are eerily similar to Johnson in that they like to keep the fight standing and put opponents away with strikes.
Bader has done a good job of using distance, feints, and his wrestling to stifle the offense of these fighters in those fights. Can he do the same against Johnson?
Johnson is a bigger man than all of those fighters, and probably the most dangerous fighter Bader has fought since Teixiera. Bader will need to be the aggressor in this fight, not necessarily stalking Johnson, but not allowing Johnson to stalk him the way Johnson did Phil Davis and others. Bader would be smart to close the distance, put Johnson against the cage to work and make him defend. Johnson is notorious for fading later in the fight and this will be a five round fight.
Johnson knows this and should have trained to expect this approach from Bader. Johnson will likely look to conserve energy, pick his opportunities to explode or catch Bader coming in for a takedown. He knows that it only takes one punch or kick at the right moment to put his opponents away. It will truly be a cat and mouse game between each fighter choosing to be offensive in this fight. Whoever can impose their will and dictate where the fight ends up will likely be the winner. If Johnson can shut Bader’s wrestling down for the first two rounds, there’s a great chance for him to get the knockout. However, if Bader can make Johnson work those first two rounds and stifle his offense, he’ll be in a prime position to take advantage of Johnson fading late in the fight.
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