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Ryan Bader relishing the role of an underdog

Outside of a fluky loss to Tito Ortiz and a stumble against the phenomenon that is light heavyweight champion Jon Jones it’s hard to find any flaws in Ryan Bader’s run since winning the Ultimate Fighter Season 8. He’s beaten seasoned veterans like Keith Jardine and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira while also showing he’s not completely reliant on his impressive wrestling ability, possessing knockout power and ever-improving stand-up.

However, when Bader enters the Octagon this weekend against Quinton Jackson at UFC 144 he’ll do so as a significant underdog. Even Jackson, whose experience and accomplishments outweigh Bader’s without question, hasn’t seemed particularly jazzed about the pairing so much as the fight taking place in his former stomping ground of Japan.

Of course, none of that fazes Bader. In fact he actually enjoys the lack of pressure created by so many people counting him out.

“He’s fought over there, he’s popular over there…but that doesn’t matter to me. I relish the role of the underdog, going in there and beating someone like ‘Rampage’,” said Bader in an interview with the UFC promoting Saturday night’s scrap. “So, if anything, that’s gonna give me more motivation.”

As far as achieving his goal and beating Jackson, Bader has no illusions about the difficulty in doing so but has a gameplan in mind that could very well be successful given some of Jackson’s past difficulties against accomplished grapplers.

“I’m gonna be smart about it,” explained Bader. “I’m not gonna just go out there and trade punches with ‘Rampage’. I’m not afraid to go out there and strike with him but I’m gonna mix every bit of my MMA training up. I’m gonna use my wrestling, I’m gonna use some kicks, I’m gonna use some boxing.”

“If I go in there just trying to take him down that’s not gonna work. I’ve gotta mix everything up,” he concluded on the topic.

Bader-Jackson serves as the co-headliner at UFC 144 with Frankie Edgar vs. Benson Henderson filling the main event slot. Other featured bouts on PPV include Jake Shields vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama, Bart Palaszewski vs. Hatsu Hioki, and Joe Lauzon vs. Anthony Pettis.

Check out the full interview with Bader below: