Fighting former UFC champions is something Ryan Bader has likely become accustom to.
Since last year, Bader has been inside the Octagon against the likes of Jon Jones, Tito Ortiz and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Now, this Saturday night, he takes on Lyoto Machida at UFC on FOX: Shogun vs. Vera.
Counting Jones’ current reign atop the UFC’s 205-pound division, that makes four champs or past champs in his last five fights. The lone exception during the span was Jason Brilz, who Bader knocked out.
The former Ultimate Fighter winner finds himself in a strong position in terms of the UFC light heavyweight pecking order, especially after his recent victory over Jackson. He was submitted by both Jones and Ortiz, however, last year.
“I am getting there,” said Bader, during a conference call earlier this week. “Defeating a guy like ‘Rampage’ puts you right in the mix. I am just focused on this fight; everything else will take care of itself.”
Bader, who also goes by “Darth,” knows that Machida will present a different kind of challenge. With his karate-style, and ability to hit and not be hit, “The Dragon” is a tough foe to figure out in practice sessions.
“He brings a lot of problems to the table. You are not used to seeing (his style) in the gym, so you have to seek out training partners,” Bader said. “The biggest puzzle is making sure you see (his style) in the gym so you are not surprised by it.”
Bader brings seven career knockouts and a record of 14-2 to the Staples Center in Los Angeles this Saturday night for his co-main event bout with Machida.