Ryan Bader is on the verge of mixed martial arts greatness as he prepares himself for the most significant bout of his young fighting career. A win in “The Ultimate Fighter” finale virtually guarantees long term success in the sport and Bader will have his chance when he faces off with jiu-jitsu phenom Vinny Magalhaes on Saturday, December 13th at The Pearl at the Palms Casino and Resort in Las Vegas.
Bader joins the growing influx of top level collegiate wrestlers that have invaded the sport of mixed martial arts in recent years. The 24-year old light heavyweight had over 120 victories while wrestling for Arizona State University. He went on to become a three time PAC 10 Champion and two time NCAA Division I All-American.
The Tempe, Arizona native has made the transition from pure wrestling to MMA look easy since joining up with one of the sports top gyms, Arizona Combat Sports in 2007. Carving a path of destruction at 205 pounds since jumping head first into the sport, Bader has gone undefeated in his career and fought six times in 2007 alone. He is known for his powerful slams, suffocating wrestling, punishing ground and pound and has shown impressive boxing in many of his fights.
The man that is affectionately known as “Darth” Bader will be presented with some unique challenges when he steps into the octagon with Magalhaes to find out who is this seasons “Ultimate Fighter” at 205 pounds. Magalhaes is one of the most decorated submission grapplers that has ever stepped onto a mat. The 23-year old native of Rio De Janeiro holds world championships at the Pan American Games, the Brazilian Nationals, and the American Nationals, among others.
Bader spoke exclusively with FiveOuncesOfPain.com recently about being on the brink of this huge opportunity in his career, how he matches up with Magalhaes and what the future holds for him in the UFC at 205.
Cory Brady: Would you say your overall experience on the show was a good one or were you just dying to get out of there towards the end?
Ryan Bader: Yes, I would say it was a great experience. There was times when all you wanted to do was just get out of there but focusing on my goals helped a ton. There was good times and bad times in the house just as if you were at home. Overall I had fun and would do it again.
Cory Brady: What have you been up to since the show wrapped up?
Ryan Bader: Just training full-time. I took some time off right after the show and went away for a couple weeks. I came back and got right back in the gym. I just enjoyed being free and able to do whatever I wanted to do. That was huge to me after being cooped up in the house for so long. So not too much, just enjoying everyday life and training.
Cory Brady: Are you still living with C.B. Dollaway?
Ryan Bader: Yep, we still live together. We get along and have a lot of fun. We lead a similar life, with the same career and what not so it is easy to get along. Its also nice having somebody that knows what you are going through when you are going through a training camp. A lot of people don’t realize the work, dedication and sacrifices it takes. So some friends cant understand why I cant go out with them Saturday night, or why I am so “grumpy.” So we usually find ways to take our mind off of the fight and have fun without sacrificing what we are working towards.
Cory Brady: How are you feeling physically in the days leading up to the biggest fight of your career?
Ryan Bader: I feel great! I am in awesome shape right now and I feel I have gotten a lot better and have grown as a fighter. I am really looking forward to getting back in the cage. It has been too long!
Cory Brady: How confident do you feel going into your fight with Vinny?
Ryan Bader: I feel very confident. I am in great shape. My skill set is up and I am hungry for this win. I am very excited to get in there and mix it up with him.
Cory Brady: How do you feel you match up with Vinny?
Ryan Bader: I feel that I match up very well with him. He is amazing on the ground, but with my wrestling I feel that I can dictate where the fight takes place. I feel that I am better on my feet and that I am a lot more mentally tough, and if it goes to the later rounds I will have a definite advantage.
Cory Brady: Have you traveled anywhere to prepare for this one or have you stayed at home with Arizona Combat Sports for the most part?
Ryan Bader: I have stayed at Arizona Combat Sports with an exception of one week at Nogueira’s gym in Miami. It is nice to be around your training partners and your own trainers who know how you are progressing, how your body works, and what you need and don’t need to work on for the upcoming fight.
Cory Brady: Who are some of the key people that have helped you prepare for this fight?
Ryan Bader: The Lally brothers, Gustavo Dantes. These people are my main trainers and have helped me tremendously. Also my training partners, C.B. Dollaway, Aaron Simpson, Jesse Forbes, Steinbeiss brothers, Jacob McClintock and many many more. I couldn’t do it alone and they are always there pushing me and making sure that I am where I need to be.
Cory Brady: Who have you been training your submission game with?
Ryan Bader: I have been doing my Jiu Jitsu with Gustavo Dantes and Jacob McClintock. Gustavo is a stud world champion and Jacob has a similar style as Vinny with a lot of rubber guard, flying armbars, etc. I also roll and work out with as many high level grapplers as I can.
Cory Brady: You will definitely have the advantage in the wrestling department. Will you be confident in utilizing your ground and pound against against a guy like Vinny?
Ryan Bader: Yes, I am not afraid of being on top of Vinny. He has some slick submissions but I am not going to fight him like I fought Eliot. I will be punishing him so he never even gets the chance to play his game.
Cory Brady: Do you feel you have the superior stand up game?
Ryan Bader: Yes I do and it is evolving everyday. We are both not stand up studs by any means but I definitely have more power. I have been working hard and will be bringing a lot more into this fight. I feel like I have yet to show my true stand up skills in a fight and am looking forward to doing that.
Cory Brady: Will you be looking to make a statement in this fight?
Ryan Bader: Most definitely, I will be looking to make a big statement. I had a lackluster fight with Eliot and am looking to get that back. A nice KO would be perfect!
Cory Brady: How do you visualize this one ending?
Ryan Bader: Me the victor. I am going in this fight to finish it so it would be great any way I can achieve that.
Cory Brady: How excited are you to test yourself in UFC’s stacked 205 pound division?
Ryan Bader: Very excited. I am a competitor and want to test myself and there is no better place than the UFC especially at 205.
Cory Brady: What does the future hold for Ryan Bader in the UFC?
Ryan Bader: The future will hold success. I am looking to have a long successful career and one day be the champ. That is my ultimate goal, if it wasn’t I don’t know why I would be in this sport. I want to be the best at what I do.
Cory Brady: Is there anyone you would like to thank?
Ryan Bader: I would like to thank my camp Arizona Combat Sport and the Lally brothers first off. All my training partners that have helped me get to where I am today. Also Jason Genet with LG Sports Marketing. Also check out www.ryanbader.com.