Last night (Sat., June 14, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweights Ryan Bader and Rafael Cavalcante faced off on the pay-per-view (PPV) main card of UFC 174 from Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
No. 9-ranked Bader came in off a dominant decision win over Anthony Perosh at UFC Fight Night 33. The former Arizona State University (ASU) wrestler needed to keep his momentum going by defeating No. 11-ranked former Strikeforce champion Cavalcante, who knocked out Igor Pokrajac in his last bout at UFC Fight Night 32.
Both fighters brought an insane amount of knockout power to the cage each and every time out, making this fight almost guaranteed to end with an exciting finish.
But, nothing is guaranteed in mixed martial arts (MMA), and this time, Bader picked up a decision victory in one of what seemed like several uninspired bouts at UFC 174.
The fight began with a short exchange before Bader went for a takedown. "Feijao" got back up but had his back taken as "Darth" lifted him up momentarily. Bader controlled the action with knees to the legs. The action returned to the striking and "Feijao" narrowly missed a huge right hand.
He scored with a lunging left hand and the fighters traded good jabs in the center of the Octagon. Bader went for an explosive takedown, controlling the fight on the ground by landing hard punches and a big knee to the body to close out the first round.
"Feijao" threw a spinning back kick to start the second. Bader missed on a takedown and the referee encouraged the fighters to get working. Bader again got an advantageous position on the mat to score some hard knees. Cavalcante couldn't do much as the power wrestler smothered him.
Bader's movement was still high as "Feijao" appeared tired from getting out-wrestled. He snapped a right hand, only to eat one. Bader threw some good punches to the body and secured yet another takedown. "Darth" was clearly in control of another underwhelming fight as the second round came to an end.
"Feijao" showed a bit of desperation to start the third round, landing a few hooks. He stuffed a takedown to press the action, swinging with massive bombs and locking Bader in a front headlock. He stood up and Bader went for a takedown, but Cavalcante fought back with some elbows to the head. Bader slowed with the clinch and Cavalcante pushed him off.
The pace was slowed as Bader missed another takedown as the crowd booed loudly. "Darth" finally dumped "Feijao" and went to work with body shots. Bader smothered his opponent to win a wrestling-heavy decision for his second straight victory.
Although it wasn't the most impressive of wins, it was over a former champion, so Bader should progress to another big fight. A bout with Ovince St. Preux or Mauricio "Shogun" Rua would make sense for "Darth." The winner of the upcoming Anthony Johnson vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira bout at July's UFC on FOX 12 could also be a possibility.
The loss is a bad one for Cavalcante, as he showed that he has an extreme deficiency in his wrestling skills. He's going to have to sharpen his takedown defense in a big way if he ever wants to rise up the ranks. He did almost nothing save for a brief a brief stint to start the third round, so we'll see how he responds in his next fight. A bout with Ryan Jimmo could be an exciting match-up for "Feijao," but the pressure is on him to win.
Ryan Bader continued his winning ways by out-wrestling a flat Rafael Cavalcante. Will "Darth" ever rise up to fight the true elite of the UFC light heavyweight division?