Much of the post UFC 192 talk is regarding the thrilling main event between Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson, but this shouldn’t over shadow the fact Ryan Bader scored a very impressive win on Saturday.
Bader worked his way to a clear cut, unanimous decision win over fellow contender, Rashad Evans, and showcased the best striking pedigree he’s had to date while doing so.
After the card, here is some of what “Darth” had to say about the win while taking to FOX Sports 1 (quote via FOX Sports press release).
“I felt like myself. It’s all coming together. All the experience is paying off. I used to fight in a fog. I can think on the fly and everything is coming together.”
“I developed a good jab and started more Thai boxing. I’ve opened up my hips and put my combos together. I’ve always had takedowns. I’m building on my game. The jab was working, Rashad was slick. I wanted him to overcommit with the big right and get him with an uppercut.”
Now sure, it’s worth noting that Evans hadn’t fought since 2013, and was coming off two knee surgeries. So, Bader likely didn’t face “Suga” at his best. But, Bader has clearly become much, much more than a top tier wrestler with heavy hands. The Arizona fighter’s striking arsenal has never been more diverse.
The good news for the UFC is that even if Jon Jones isn’t ready to return in the coming months to face Cormier, they could tap Bader for a title shot. Cormier and Bader have feuded publicly in the past, and while Cormier-Jones II would be much bigger, Cormier-Bader would likely sell just fine.
Will the UFC want to put a rematch between Jones and Cormier at risk in the interim? That’s the question. If Jones can’t return until say mid 2016, they may elect to move forward.