After winning his first five fights inside the Octagon, Ryan Bader was seemingly one win away from vying for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight title.
Jon Jones, however, put an end to "Darth's" run at UFC 126, choking him out in the second round back in 2011. In the process. "Bones" received a surprise title shot against then-champion Mauricio Rua.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
But now that Bader, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 8 winner, has more experience and more money to bring in top-level trainers to assist him, he's determined to make one more run at the title before it's all said and done.
His words to UFC.com:
"You will see me take another run at the title. I just turned 31 and I'm not as young as I used to be. Before we were on The Ultimate Fighter, we were lucky to get a two thousand dollar a month sponsorship so we could focus on being fighters, but our coaching staff were the Lally twins; they were our coaches for everything across the board; striking, jiu jitsu, kickboxing, so we never had that specialized disciplined training, so I relied a lot on my wrestling and got by with what we learned. Now that I'm a little older and have a little more money I can hire that one guy who focuses just on wrestling, one guy on strength and conditioning, one guy on jiu-jitsu, so while it gets easier to afford, well, as we get older we now have to train differently, so it's a balance, but I think I've finally figured out the balance. We'll see come fight night."
After his loss to Jones, Bader went on to drop his second in a row to Tito Ortiz. Since then, he's gone 4-2 with his two losses coming at the hands of Lyoto Machida and Glover Teixeira.
"Darth" looks to make it two wins in a row as he gears up to take on former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Rafael Cavalcante at this weekend's (Sat., June 14, 2014) UFC 174 pay-per-view (PPV) event from The Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canada.
A fight Bader says is dangerous in many ways:
"I've fought everybody who is anybody in the division. But Feijao is special. He's got a lot of power in his hands and he's excellent on his feet. He's put a lot people away with his right hand. Also, he's been in a lot of trouble in fights and suddenly he can end a fight with combination. He also has really, really good takedown defense. He's dangerous everywhere the fight goes."
A win over the former champion could go a long way in boosting him up the rankings and inch him closer to his title dreams.
Anyone think Bader has what it takes to make a run at the UFC's 205-pound strap?