Blogkick: UFC 126 Jon Jones vs. Ryan BaderPosted on February 5, 2011, 11:33 AM by Milt
These are both fighters who are relatively young in the UFC and who have been making real strides towards establishing themselves at the top of the Light Heavyweight division. Jones has 12 fights on his record since he turned professional in 2008 with all but one ending in victory. The one loss he suffered at the hands of Matt Hamill was by way of disqualification and most people who saw the fight would agree that Jones on the brink of victory before he let inexperience get the better of him and used a number of illegal 12 – 6 elbow strikes which led to his disqualification. Since then Jones has won two impressive first round TKO victories over Brandon Vera and Vladimir Matyushenko.
Ryan Bader began his professional fighting career a year earlier than Jones and also has 12 fights on his record, all 12 ending in victory. His UFC career began with a knockout victory over Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist Vinny Magalhães at The Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale. Since then he has had four straight victories including a notable KO victory over Keith Jardine and an impressive unanimous decision victory over Antônio Rogério Nogueira.
In addition to having similar records, these fighters also have similar backgrounds. Ryan Bader won two state championships in wrestling at high school and was ranked 4th in The United States at one point. He also wrestled alongside Cain Velasquez at Arizona State University. Similarly, Jones was a state wrestling champion in high school. He also went on to become a national Junior College Champion before signing with the UFC in 2008.
Based purely on their history one would have to give Bader the slight advantage, considering that his record is unblemished and most would agree that of their most recent opponents Bader has fought the tougher of the two in Pride veteran Antônio Rogério Nogueira. However, these fighters are both wrestling specialists and oftentimes when that is the case the fight is played out on the feet. If that is the case in this instance I feel Jones will be at a distinct advantage. He has the longest reach of any fighter on the UFC roster and his striking is sharper and more unpredictable than that of Bader.
If Bader can land there is no doubt that he has the power to put Jones to sleep but I feel that Jones will be too elusive. I think we will see Bader try to strike with Jones early. When he realises he is out of his depth he will look to take the fight to the mat but I expect Jones to effectively defend Bader’s takedown attempts and use his reach and unorthodox striking to dominate the fight and earn a probable TKO victory.