Plenty Proven in New Jersey

ufc-fox18There comes a fighter’s career where their great streak is truly tested and they begin to fight at talent at a different level.

Ryan Bader reached that moment when he was named to the main event of UFC on FOX 18 when he truly reached a new level amid his win streak.

Heading into the fight Bader had put together five straight wins which is always a good way of putting your name in the conversation for a title fight.

The problem with a lot of these win streaks is that they lack those big fights that make a fighter a true contender and that can be frustrating for fighters.

Bader is one of those fighters as he came in with a great win streak and believed that he was a true contender in the light heavyweight division.

His biggest win was against Ovince St. Preux who was riding his own win streak into his fight against Bader but took the loss.

Other than St. Preux there wasn’t a lot of great names that Bader had put on his record which kept him just outside the title conversation.

It is not a new thing in the UFC though as there have been plenty of fighters who have done the same thing as Bader and the promotion knows how to deal with the situation.

After putting up a streak as long as Bader had it was time for him to fight some of the top talent in the division and see where he lands.

It was time for Bader to prove that he truly belonged among the top fighters in the division and therefore in the title hunt.

That is where Anthony Johnson came into the picture for Bader as the former top contender was set to be Bader’s first big test in this win streak.

Johnson had been in the exact same situation as Bader not too long ago as he had put together a great winning streak but had put no big names on his record.

After his sixth straight he finally reached a different level of competition when he took on Phil Davis just as Davis was beginning to get hot himself.

Adding Davis to the win list led to fights, and wins, against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Alexander Gustafsson which eventually gave Johnson the title shot against Jon Jones.

That fight never happened due to Jones’ issues outside of the octagon but Johnson fought for a vacant title against Daniel Cormier, a fight Johnson lost.

The title loss did not drop Johnson too far away from the title though and a win against Jimi Manuwa in September has put Johnson in the #2 spot behind Jones.

As one of the top three fighters in the entire division this was the fighter that represented a giant step towards the title.

It was the step up that Bader needed to get closer to that title fight but there are far more bad stories in this situation than great stories.

More often than not a fighter on a streak that steps up in competition realizes why they haven’t been in the title conversation.

They get a tough lesson in the different levels of fighters in every division and take a loss for the first time in a long time.

Good fighters take the loss and rebound well while middle of the road fighters take a loss and never recover.mma-sidebar.fw

Only the best fighters take the win and move on to the title conversation and although Bader, with a win, could have been a few fights away from a title fight he was out to prove that he belonged right there among the best in the division.

On the other side of the octagon Johnson began his role as a gatekeeper until he gets another chance at the title and Bader was the first person in his way trying to take that #2 rank.

When both faced off it was clear that Bader had a plan to deal with Johnson and it was to completely avid the stand-up game.

It was a smart decision initially as Johnson has the most power in the division and standing with him is a good way to end a fight quickly.

What is often overlooked is the fact that he wrestled in Division-II and was fairly successful in that carer.

Bader came is as a better wrestler with a Division-I background from a great program and so it was in his best interest to put the fight on the mat.

Immediately that is where the fight went as Bader shot for the takedown but didn’t get the takedown as Johnson sprawled to take a better position.

As the fight continued Bader went for a kimura but that allowed Johnson to get full mount in the process and the fight began to tilt heavily towards Johnson.

He began throwing strong punches and when Bader gave up the kimura Johnson had two hands ready to make it a short night from the mount.

Bader was out and Johnson took the win in what is sure to be a big fight for the #2 contender in the division.

For Bader it was evidence that he might not be ready to compete with the best of the best in the division but what ill separate him is if he learns from the loss and gets better.

For Johnson the win means a good chance at another title shot as he keeps his #2 ranking in the division

He might have to wait as Jones and Daniel Cormier are reportedly set to face-off and their rivalry will not be solved easily as Johnson may have to wait a while to get his chance.

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