Ryan Bader has compiled a 10-4 mark since arriving in the UFC. | Photo: Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog.com
Ryan Bader questions Ovince St. Preux’s strength of schedule.
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 winner and Power MMA Team standout will test St. Preux in the UFC Fight Night “Bader vs. St. Preux” main event on Saturday at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, Maine. Their five-round clash carries with it significant implications within the Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight division, and Bader believes he has a substantial experience advantage.
“He hasn’t fought people on my level. He hasn’t fought anyone in the top 10. I’m going to welcome him on that level, and it’s going to be a bad night for him -- and a long night,” Bader said on the Aug. 13 edition of “UFC Tonight.”
Bader’s resume speaks for itself, highlighted by wins over Pride Fighting Championships veteran Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, onetime International Fight League champion Vladimir Matyushenko and former UFC titleholder Quinton Jackson. Moreover, three of his four career losses have come against current or former UFC champions: Jon Jones, Lyoto Machida and Tito Ortiz. Bader was a two-time NCAA All-American and three-time Pac-10 Conference champion at Arizona State University, and he points to St. Preux’s most recent defeat -- a unanimous decision against Gegard Mousasi in December 2011 -- for ammunition.
“He hasn’t really fought a wrestler,” Bader said. “Mousasi took him down at will, and Mousasi isn’t a known as a wrestler. I’m going to take him down and put my hands on him. I’ve been working on my power and with my wrestling pedigree.”
St. Preux has rattled off five straight victories, four of them in the UFC, since his encounter with Mousasi; and according to FightMetric data, he has not surrendered a single takedown during his current winning streak. That sustained success, his athletic pedigree as a former Division I college football player at the University of Tennessee and the marked improvement in his overall game has made St. Preux a person of interest at 205 pounds.
“I don’t feel added pressure,” he said. “To be honest, I feel there’s more pressure on Bader than me. I’m a newcomer; he’s been around for a minute.”
St. Preux understands what a win over Bader would mean to his MMA pursuits.
“It’ll move me up in the 205 rankings,” he said. “I’m at least two fights away from the title, and that’s what I’m shooting for. In my mind, I won the fight [already]. It ain’t going to be easy, but it ain’t going to be hard.”
Bader rebounded from his technical knockout loss to Glover Teixeira in September with consecutive victories over Australian grappler Anthony Perosh and former Strikeforce champion Rafael Cavalcante. The 31-year-old feels like he has started to peak.
“I’m the fighter I need to be, and I’m the best fighter I’ve ever been,” Bader said. “My mentality is great. I’m going to make my win streak three. I’m going to move on and fight the top five in the division and get that title shot and win that title. If you look at my losses, it’s been to champs and former champs, and Glover -- all tough guys. I tried to kickbox with them. I didn’t wrestle with them. Now I’m mixing my wrestling in, and it works best for me.”
Some six months after she failed in her bid to unseat UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, Sara McMann returns to the cage.
The 2004 Olympic silver medalist will take on undefeated former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder Lauren Murphy as part of the UFC Fight Night “Bader vs. St. Preux” undercard. Murphy, 31, has finished six of her first eight opponents by knockout or technical knockout and will enter her Octagon debut on the strength of an injury-induced fourth-round stoppage against Miriam Nakamoto in December.
McMann knows her own strengths and weaknesses better than anyone. She finds her motivation in the challenge to grow beyond wrestling.
“I could probably come in there with just the wrestling skills and be able to squeak out decisions by controlling people,” she told “The Ultimate Insider” program, “but I actually want to be a great mixed martial artist.”
THIS & THAT
The Cross Insurance Center opened in September 2013 at a cost of $65 million ... Gray Maynard was a three-time NCAA All-American wrestler at Michigan State University, where he still ranks 14th on the school’s career wins list with 106 ... “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 9 winner Ross Pearson holds the rank of black belt in tae kwon do and brown belt in judo ... Zach Makovsky has held titles in the Bellator MMA, Resurrection Fighting Alliance and Combat in the Cage organizations ... Tim Boetsch graduated from Lock Haven University with a degree in criminal justice ... A Power MMA Team export, Seth Baczynski owns a 2-4 record in fights that reach the judges ... Seven of CSW representative Jack May’s eight professional bouts -- six of his seven wins and his only defeat -- have ended inside one round ... When Kings MMA prospect Nolan Ticman was born on May 17, 1988 in Palm Springs, Calif., the top five movies at the domestic box office were “Friday the 13th Part VII,” “Colors,” “Beetlejuice,” “Shakedown” and “Salsa” ... Sam Alvey is one of three men to capture the Maximum Fighting Championship middleweight crown. Patrick Cote and Elvis Mutapcic are the others ... Since starting his career with 12 consecutive victories, Thiago Tavares has gone just 6-5-1 ... UFC Fight Night “Bader vs. St. Preux” will be the 285th event the Ultimate Fighting Championship has staged in its history.