Props: Fighters Only
How is training going, have you had any complications with your knuckle? [Bader had knuckle surgery after his last fight].
“Training’s going great. The knuckle’s fine- I had surgery and let it heal properly. I’ve worked on my left jab and hook, tightening up my boxing. I’ve got some southpaws in the gym [Noguiera is a southpaw]. I came into this camp in really good shape, which is always a plus. I’m now working on bettering my skills and getting in phenomenal shape. I’m really confident.”
You talked about working on your Boxing, is your striking the weakest part of your game?
“Yeah definitely. The ground game came naturally to me, but striking is hard. I work 5 days a week on striking, with a whole class on it whether it’s sparring or technique. I’ve got great coaches dedicated to Boxing and Muay Thai, and I’m making a lot of progress.”
What are your thoughts on Noguiera?
“He’s a great fighter and a great person. I respect him a lot and what he has done in the sport. But he’s in my way right now and I need to go out there and get that W. He’s great on the ground and got great Boxing. He’s more of a counter-boxer, and doesn’t kick much. His weakest part is Wrestling and scrambling, like he showed against Brilz when he got caught in a gullotine while scrambling. I can definitely beat him if I keep him guessing, keep him scrambling and look for shots on the feet.”
Considering Wrestling is your base and you think it is his weakness, will you be looking to take the fight to the ground?
“Not necessarily. I’m going to box with him. If I opt to get it down I definitely can, he doesn’t really have much takedown defence and I’m sure he doesn’t mind being on his back. I’m going to box with him, kickbox with him. My game plan from there is to get him down, and pound him out on the ground.”
Will you be comfortable striking with him considering it is not your strongest point and his pedigree as being very good technically?
“You can have all the accolades Boxing-wise, but in MMA with 4-ounce gloves on, you don’t have to be a perfect, clean boxer. Just hit one clean shot with those small gloves on and you never know. I’m not the most technical, but I do have heavy hands. I’m not underestimating his abilities, I’ve got to be careful. I can’t get too crazy, I’ve got to be smart and respect him, pick my shots and work on being more clean.”
Considering who he has fought and who you have fought, is Noguiera a big step up in class for you?
“Absolutely. If you look at his record he’s fought the who’s who of MMA. I’ve fought some good guys but not near the calibre he has. But this is MMA, it’s one fight at a time. He’s been in wars, been hit by guys, knocked down. I’m younger, fresher. If you compare our records his is better, there’s bigger names on it. But it’s one at a time, you can only beat the opponent in front of you. I stepped up in my last fight when I faced Keith Jardine. I didn’t know if those guys were completely out my league before that, because I was fighting the gatekeepers that I should fight when coming into the UFC. I went out, was fine and realised I belong with these guys.”
Noguiera has had double the amount of fights you have had. Could his experience play a role in the fight?
“He’s not bringing all the fighters he beat in the Octagon in with him, it’s just me and him. Anything can happen, it’s a crazy sport. There’s 4-ounce gloves on, and when you match up with others you never know what’s going to happen. I’m expecting the best there is to come out in me in this fight. I’m looking to make a statement. I’m sure he’s disappointed in his last fight [against Jason Brilz at UFC 114] and he’s looking to rebound with a win, but he’s going to need to look for another fight for that.”
Do you feel this is your big chance to show people what you’re capable of?
“Yeah, I really do. I feel if someone has been looking at me, they’d say he’s good but who’s he fought. Keith was on a losing streak, this is my time to make a statement that I’m here to stay, that I can beat the top 5 or 7 guys, that I am a legitimate title contender.”
What level would you say you are at just now?
“In the sport I feel like I’m an up and comer trying to prove I belong with the big boys. After The Ultimate Fighter I was working my way up, low on the radar in the underdog role, proving people wrong and continuing to move up. If I beat Noguiera I’m 1 or 2 fights away from a title shot, but I’m not rushing it. I want to be the best fighter I can be when I get that shot, whether it’s after him or after another fight, or another 3, I’m in no rush.”
How do you think you stack up against the top guys in the division?
“If you don’t think you’re good enough you’re in the wrong sport. I’m confident in my abilities, I think I can beat them. In the Light-Heavyweight division there’s ten fighters who can all beat each other on any given day. There’s no dominant champ, everyone is that tough.”
Are there any of those ten that you’d particularly like to fight?
“I’ll fight whoever they tell me to, but I’d kind of like a Couture or Ortiz before they retire. As an MMA fan and a fighter to say I fought and hopefully beat them would be great. There’s no ill will, I’d just like to.”
Some fighters with a Wrestling background get criticised for not finishing fights, but you don’t have a problem in that respect, how important is finishing the fight to you?
“Definitely important. I work with a tough group of guys who are all competitive, spar and train hard. I’m always looking to finish. With the top level guys, it gets harder and harder. I always look for opportunities, but against Eric Schafer I was balls to the wall, a bit too crazy. I need to keep my composure a little more, not gas myself out when I have someone hurt and blow my wad. It’s definitely a goal of mine to finish my fights.”
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far in the Octagon?
“Just to keep my composure. Although the biggest thing is probably the experience, how to handle nerves but be comfortable. I finally feel comfortable and am using the skills I learn in training in a fight. Fighting is a lot different to training, there’s a different atmosphere, a new guy, small gloves, no headgear. I’m more comfortable with that now.”
You’re one of the biggest prospects in the Light-Heavyweight division, but another prospect Jon Jones is complimented a lot more than you, does that bother you? With speculation that you two will fight occurring every so often, is it inevitable you will collide at some stage?
“Not one bit, he’s a great fighter. He’s a little flashier than I am, does different stuff, he’s going to do very well. I don’t mind, I don’t get envious. Yeah absolutely there’s been a lot of talk the UFC want to put us together. Eventually we’re going to have to fight, I’m sure it’s going to happen. When you’re in this sport as long as we will be, it’s going to happen.”
I'm a huge Bader fan so i cant wait for this fight to happen, and see where he stands in the division. Although I would hate to see Bader fight Jones (winner of this fight is rumored to fight Jones next). I like both those fighters, so I'd hate to see one get derailed temporarily.