Anthony “The Hippo” Perosh (14-7, 4-4 UFC) vs. Ryan “Darth” Bader (15-4, 8-4 UFC), at UFC Fight Night 33
One of 2 light heavyweight bouts on the card this fight presents an intriguing style matchup between the cerebral BJJ player and hometown boy Perosh and the brutish wrestler in Bader. Though both are established fighters and have a similar amount of actual MMA fights (19 and 21), Perosh is the true veteran here and was starting out in MMA as a BJJ black belt as Bader was just beginning his college education.
Anthony Perosh is a respected martial arts veteran, he started training in Kempo and Muay Thai back in 1995 with Australian martial arts pioneer Paul Zadro and 2 years later was headed to Dallas Texas to train BJJ with the incomparable Carlos Machado. Currently in his second UFC stint Perosh is looking better than ever at 41 years old and could possibly be in the midst of an improbable run towards the UFC’s top 10. Aiding him on his journey will be the following skills:
-The instructor lineage of Anthony Perosh can be traced right back to the very beginning, and his primary skill is undoubtedly Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Although he has medaled in the big BJJ competitions like the Pan Ams and even the Mundials, his BJJ is very much geared towards MMA. He does his best work from the top position finishing 7 of his 9 submission wins from here with various arm chokes. Anthony’s affinity for top side grappling is what got him his Hippo nickname in the first place, because he was big, and mean, and applied a ton of pressure, true story.
-Playing a huge role in the way that Perosh fights and trains is his intelligence and experience. Not being the most athletic guy out there, he brings with him into fights every bit of knowledge he has gained and most importantly he has learned from his losses. Just listening to Perosh talk you can tell he is a thinking man’s fighter.
– I am not suggesting that Perosh is the second coming of Ernesto Hoost, but I’m listing his striking as a strength. He is not particularly fluid or imposing on the feet and has been busted up a few times, but the fact is he won 7 fights with striking, he has 2 first round KO wins in his last 3 fights, and he held his own standing with Muay Thai champ Cyrille Diabate’ before choking him out. We have to remember this is MMA not kickboxing and sometimes ugly can be effective.
Now for the weaknesses:
-When it comes to the more athletic, explosive, and dynamic fighters in the UFC, Perosh is not one of them. He’s a bit awkward and on the slow side with his foot work and such, especially on the feet. This has cost him a few tough losses to guys on the opposite end of this spectrum. It’s not as if he’s tripping over his own 2 feet in there but this is the UFC, home to some of the very best overall athletes and any weakness can be exploited.
-Then there is the issue of his wrestling, especially his offensive wrestling needing the most work. He struggles for most takedowns and for a BJJ guy that can be a problem. In today’s MMA judges seem to reward top position handsomely and unless you’re one of the very best at pulling subs from bottom it’s always good to up your wrestling.
-Just like I had to list striking as a strong spot because he uses it rather effectively I should also mention that it has been his undoing a few times as well with 5 of 7 losses due to strikes. With 3 of them via right hand which happens to be Bader’s best punch.
Former division 1 all American wrestler and winner of the 8th season of TUF, Ryan Bader has all the physical tools he will ever need but is still trying to take things to the next level. He has cooled of some since his initial 5 fight UFC win streak but is still ranked in or just outside the top 10 on most ranking. Consistency issues aside, Darth is still young and talented enough to make some noise in the division and these strengths will help him do it:
-Wrestling is still Bader’s strongest tool and is effective on its own as a direct weapon or as a means to make his striking more effective by making foes worry about it. Sticking primarily to powerful single and double leg takedowns most of the time, if Bader wants you on the ground he can get you there eventually. Bader does best when he establishes the threat of the takedown early and works his other weapons off of his wrestling.
-Like many other converted wrestlers Ryan has developed a nasty right hand. When he lands it clean most guys are hurt at the very least and it opens up opportunities to work other attacks. His hands in general continue to develop with a nice overhand right, a good left hook/uppercut, and decent use of the jab.
-Not the most technical fighter out there, Bader gets by mainly on extreme strength. You just have to take a look at the guy to see that Ryan Bader is very powerful and can at times make up for any disadvantages he may have in the technique department.
Of the 4 losses on Bader’s record half are by submission and half by (T)KO and the 2 examples in each group are quite similar. This shows that Darth has some dangerous tendencies:
-Common in strong individuals is the tendency to rely too much on that power and forget other important elements of a fight. Bader has been guilty of this in just about every one of his losses. Trying to go strength for strength with Tito and Jon Jones cost him when they simply played a different game and used more speed, creativity, and technique. Nobody says it’s easy to switch between aspects so quickly but sometimes it is necessary.
-The other obvious short coming in Bader’s game is strategy. I cannot think of a worse fighter to bum rush than Lyoto Machida but for some reason Bader chose to do this and a few seconds later he was trying to regain his senses. Similarly in the Glover Teixeira fight Bader landed a clean punch but then went berserker and again was knocked out. Bader needs to just chill out sometimes and take a breath.
Obviously at this level of MMA everyone is good at everything but many fights still come down to brain vs. brawn and this one is no different. And oddly enough each fighter here is in the process of adding the other element. Considering that, it will be brawn taking this fight and Ryan Bader should win by late stoppage or decision victory.