Ryan Bader: Kimbo Will Be A Big Star in the UFC

by FIGHT! contribor Jon Lane

The light heavyweight champion of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Nogueira vs. Team Mir, Ryan Bader returns to the Octagon at UFC 104 for the first time since his April 1 victory over Carmelo Marrero. Bader will face veteran fighter Eric “Red” Schafer on Oct. 24 in Los Angeles.

FIGHT!: What do you think of TUF Heavyweights?
Ryan Bader: They’re heavyweights, that’s all I can say. The second fighter (Wes Shivers) who gassed halfway through the first round was kind of funny.

FIGHT!: Is Kimbo Slice ridiculously over hyped?
Bader: Going into this I thought the same thing. I thought he was cocky but he’s changed my mind. I should have known better because I’ve been around reality TV and the hype machine. I was rooting for Kimbo in his last fight. He looks like he’s a great guy and has put a lot on the line. He’s going to get better and will be a big star in the UFC if they bring him up right. It’s a business and Spike is going to market around people who can draw in those numbers like he did.

FIGHT!: You like guns. What’s in your collection?
Bader: I have a .45 Glock, a compact one. I have a little Smith & Wesson, a southern magnum, a tiny one that’s fun to shoot. As I get older, there’s a nine-millimeter that my grandpa gave me awhile back. Then there’s a shotgun and a couple of rifles.

FIGHT!: Are you a marksman?
Bader: With the rifle I’m pretty deadly.

FIGHT!: All but one of Schafer’s fights (not including two draws) ended in round one. Is it get him before he gets you?
Bader: I’m not going to throw technique out the window and go wild on him; I’ll let him do that to me. My wrestling is definitely going to control this fight because he can’t rush at me like he did his last fight. He has to be patient or he’ll be in trouble. It’s kind of a double-edged sword for him.

FIGHT!: A bit more pressure coming off the knee injury and living up to being a TUF winner?
Bader: It’s the same pressure I felt in my first MMA fight. I put a lot of pressure on myself and I feel the pressure from everybody else to not let anybody down. I felt that every wrestling match of my college career. I hate to lose. Losing is what drives me.

FIGHT!: All of your extracurricular activities appear on Bader TV. You’re not afraid to connect with your fans.
Bader: Fans drive this sport and drive you. A connection with you definitely helps your career money wise, sponsorship wise. All my fans are part of my family too. I love those guys.

FIGHT!: Bader TV showcases your weight training, hobbies and presence at fan expos.
Bader: A lot of fans pretty much ask the same questions, like what do you do during training? And I thought instead of more blogs I just put it on video to make it easier for everybody. I have a little flip camera I take everywhere, and if something pops up or if I’m doing something, I just record it, throw it on there and give fans the inside of what it’s like to train for a UFC fight or what our life is like in and out of training.

FIGHT!: What is life out of training?
Bader: Going out to the lake and various water sports; it gets pretty hot [in Arizona]. It gets near 115 [degrees], so you have to be near some water.

FIGHT!: Junie Browning: The craziest cat you’ve met in your life?
Bader: Not the craziest, but on that show and with him wanting to do what he wanted to do, wanting to play that character, he upped it up a little bit for the camera time. He made himself the heel and people wanted to see him lose.

FIGHT!: Did the attention on Junie help you fly under the radar?
Bader: It wouldn’t have mattered. My goal was to win. I’ve been through wrestling seasons that were horrible, so I knew how to grind it out. We were there to do a job, not get on the show just to get some TV time. I was there to win it and wasn’t letting those other things distract me.

FIGHT!: Does Mauricio Rua stand any chance against Lyoto Machida?
Bader: He was the best light-heavyweight in the world a couple of years ago. He’s getting back on his game and has all the tools to beat Machida. I think it’s going to be a lot closer that a lot of people are giving Shogun credit for.

FIGHT!: So who’s winning?
Bader: That said, I have Machida by unanimous decision.

To learn more about Ryan Bader or to watch episodes of Bader TV, visit RyanBader.com.

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