UFC 104 Preview: The Prelims

Bader vs. Schafer

Oct 20, 2009
Los Angeles is home to Roman Polanski apologists, paparazzi that make Dr. Doom look bush league and a politician who used to chug steroids for a living. In other words, it’s nice that UFC 104 “Machida vs. Shogun” this Saturday will not get any of the locals to so much as bat an eyelash. As for the diehards who cannot make it out to the Staples Center, Spike TV plans to throw us a bone by airing two live preliminary bouts.

They are not just any two bouts mind you, but a light heavyweight clash that matches a jiu-jitsu ace against a winner from “The Ultimate Fighter” and a heavyweight bout sure to keep the kickboxing fans on a high. If the promise of a quality rush cannot get you interested in this undercard, then you might as well start watching shuffleboard at the park.

Ryan Bader vs. Eric Schafer

The Breakdown: For anyone who has not been hunted down by Spike TV’s marketing mafia, Bader emerged as the undefeated light heavyweight winner of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8; Schafer is the guy the UFC hopes does not ruin its reality TV meal ticket. Schafer has proven a solid gatekeeper, and his jiu-jitsu makes him a real threat to Bader, who’s still figuring out how to combine his heavy hands and dominant wrestling skills. Schafer cannot outwrestle Bader, however, and his guard game is nowhere near as strong as his top control.

The X-Factor: Bader looked spectacular in knocking out Vinny Magalhaes in his UFC debut, but he turned in a pedestrian performance against Carmelo Marrero at UFC Fight Night 18. There, he seemed incapable of consistently passing or even working effective ground-and-pound against an opponent with a notoriously weak guard. Schafer may not be Demian Maia, but he can certainly do more than just clamp down on his guard and hope for restarts. If Bader’s offensive struggles continue, he could easily get himself in a bad spot on the mat, and Schafer does not hand out free passes.

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The Bottom Line: It’s hard to pick against a jiu-jitsu standout like Schafer, but he has virtually nothing to offer Bader besides the vague threat of a submission. Standing, Bader’s punching power will be more than enough to keep Schafer from testing his luck, and trying to get Bader down seems like a lost cause. Schafer will certainly make life interesting for Bader, but 13 minutes of paralyzing top control always beats out two minutes of effective grappling on the scorecards.
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