Ryan Bader handed Ovince St. Preux (Pictured) his first UFC defeat. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Ryan Bader’s strengths matched up well with Ovince St. Preux’s weaknesses.
Bader utilized repeated takedowns -- he totaled a career-high nine in all -- and paired them with a stifling top game in capturing a unanimous decision from St. Preux in the UFC Fight Night “Bader vs. St. Preux” main event on Saturday at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, Maine. Scores were 48-47, 49-46 and 49-46, as two of the cageside judges awarded “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 winner four of the five rounds.
A two-time NCAA All-American wrestler, Bader executed multiple takedowns in the first, third and fourth rounds, quieting the heavy artillery that had made St. Preux one of the hottest commodities in the Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight division. According to preliminary FightMetric data, the former University of Tennessee linebacker and defensive end connected on only 30 total strikes in the 25-minute clash. Bader did more than just shut the 205-pound gate on St. Preux; he slammed it in his face.
Related: By the Numbers: UFC Fight Night
In wake of UFC Fight Night “Bader vs. St. Preux,” here are six matchups that ought to be considered:
Ryan Bader vs. Anthony Johnson: Bader has rattled off three consecutive victories since his ill-fated encounter with Glover Teixeira in September and now owns an 11-4 record inside the Octagon. The 31-year-old may never ascend to the top of the light heavyweight division, but he has become an important piece for the UFC in terms of exposing or validating new contenders at 205 pounds. Outside of Teixeira, Bader’s only three losses have come against current or former champions: Jon Jones, Lyoto Machida and Tito Ortiz. Johnson has emerged as a potential threat to Jones’ reign over the division with back-to-back wins over Phil Davis and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
Ovince St. Preux vs. Rafael Cavalcante: St. Preux must return to his war room after concerns over the holes in his defensive wrestling were once again raised. His talents are undeniable, but the Knoxville MMA representative will need to shore up some of his deficiencies if he plans on climbing any further on the light heavyweight ladder. Still, St. Preux has won 13 of his last 15 fights, and the two men to whom he has lost during that stretch -- Bader and Gegard Mousasi -- own a combined record of 53-8-2. A former Strikeforce champion, Cavalcante was victimized by Bader at UFC 174 in June. The Brazilian has never suffered consecutive defeats.
Ross Pearson vs. Myles Jury-Takanori Gomi winner: Distancing himself from a controversial split decision loss to Diego Sanchez in June, Pearson buried two-time title challenger Gray Maynard with second-round punches in the co-main event. The Englishman staggered Maynard with a counter right hand, dropped him to a seated position with a left hook and polished him off with unanswered rights on the ground. The affable Pearson now sports 11 finishes among his 16 career victories. Jury and Gomi will duke it out at UFC Fight Night “Hunt vs. Nelson” on Sept. 20 in Japan.
Tim Boetsch vs. Nate Marquardt: Somewhere, Yushin Okami shuddered. Behind on the scorecards, Boetsch rallied to upset “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 11 semifinalist Brad Tavares by technical knockout in the second round of their showcase at 185 pounds. Bleeding from multiple cuts, “The Barbarian” clipped Tavares with a left hook, floored him with a subsequent right and finished him with standing-to-ground strikes. Boetsch, 33, entered the cage with losses in three of his previous four fights. Marquardt made a triumphant return to the middleweight division in June, when he submitted James Te Huna with a first-round armbar in New Zealand.
Jussier da Silva vs. Dustin Ortiz: A former Shooto Americas champion, da Silva cemented his place as one of the world’s premier flyweights with his unanimous decision over Zach Makovsky. The Brazilian lured Makovsky into his wheelhouse, using scrambles and his world-class ground skills to build a case on the scorecards. Often criticized for being one-dimensional, “Formiga” is 3-2 since touching down in the UFC in October 2012, having lost only to John Dodson and Joseph Benavidez. Roufusport’s Ortiz last competed at “The Ultimate Fighter 19” Finale in July, when he pocketed a split decision against Justin Scoggins in Las Vegas. He has never been finished in 17 bouts as a professional.
Sara McMann vs. Miesha Tate-Rin Nakai winner: McMann rebounded from her first career defeat -- a 66-second technical knockout loss against current women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey -- with a split decision over the previously unbeaten Lauren Murphy. The 2004 Olympic silver medalist imposed her will on Murphy, forcing the MMA Lab representative to fight from her back for much of their 15-minute encounter. Though McMann’s performance does not figure to inspire widespread confidence, among active fighters on the UFC roster, some still view her as the only legitimate threat to Rousey’s reign as champion. Tate and Nakai will square off on Sept. 20 in Japan.