Bader (top) is not looking past Tito Ortiz. | Photo: Daniel
Mere hours away from his UFC
clash with Tito Ortiz
finds himself swimming in uncharted waters.
For the first time in his career, Bader will enter a bout coming
off a loss, a fact that “Darth” says fueled him during his training
“I’m coming off the first loss of my career, and it made me
reevaluate everything. I was getting by and winning with a certain
skill set. It was a 'if it's not broke, don't fix it' kind of
thing. [The loss] put me back to the drawing board and made me
start over,” said Bader. “I was just rejuvenated and wanted to get
back to training and become a better MMA fighter. I was working on
a lot of footwork and technique and [learning how to] not go out
there crazy and trying to end [the fight] with one punch every
A powerful right hand coupled with his All-American wrestler status
propelled Bader to five consecutive Octagon victories, starting
with his knockout of Vinny
Magalhaes at “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 finale in 2008.
Victories over Carmelo
Marrero and Eric
Schafer would follow before Bader handled a significant step up
in competition by besting both Keith
Jardine and Antonio
Rogerio Nogueira in 2010.
In his next fight, however, the 28-year-old would run into a brick
wall by the name of Jon Jones.
“Bones” handled Bader from start to finish at UFC 126, taking down
the former Arizona State Sun Devil and finishing him with a
second-round guillotine choke from top position.
While some might speculate that Bader felt a measure of relief
following his first defeat, the fighter believes that he still
faces pressure heading into his next contest -- just not the
pressure of being undefeated.
“I still think there's pressure. You don't want two losses in a
row. It was great to be in there and experience that big fight with
[Jones], who is now the champion. [Losing] didn't take the pressure
off, but it motivated me for this fight. I want to reinvent
myself,” said Bader. “I put a lot of pressure on myself for every
fight. You go through a whole camp and you don't want to let any of
your friends and family down. I just want to get back to
Part of reinventing himself has led Bader back to fighting
fundamentals, improving both his standup and his ground game. While
Bader is best known for his long-standing wrestling prowess, the
fighter says that even his wrestling skills have grown as of
“As far as MMA wrestling, I might not get 100 percent of my
takedowns, but at the same time, I have a different shot. I’m not
down there on my knees in danger of guillotines and all that.
Sometimes [my shots] are setups for punches, and I’ve worked a lot
this camp on my standup and being more technical,” said Bader. “My
takedowns actually got a lot better. My wrestling is my bread and
butter, and I can always fall back on that, but I’m looking to
evolve and get better in every aspect. Even in my wrestling.”
In Ortiz, Bader faces a former light heavyweight champion and a man
in desperate need of a win. Once a dominant force, “The Huntington
Beach Bad Boy” has gone just 0-4-1 in his last five fights. With a
defeat, Ortiz could receive his walking papers and perhaps face the
end of his career as a professional mixed martial artist.
Though Bader enters the bout as a heavy favorite, the Power MMA and
Fitness representative asserts that he doesn't buy into the Vegas
odds. Instead, Bader regards Ortiz as a serious threat to hand him
the second loss of his career.
“I’ve been through enough competition with my amateur wrestling
background to know that anybody can beat anybody on a given day,
and I don't pay any attention to [the betting odds] whatsoever,”
said Bader. “I have one job to do: go out there and win and look
good doing it. I’m prepared for that, and that's all that matters
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