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UFC 192 fight card: Rashad Evans vs Ryan Bader full fight preview

Rashad Evans and Ryan Bader will scrap this Saturday (Oct. 3, 2015) at UFC 192 inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. In a match up of two excellent wrestle-boxers, what adjustments must be made for either man to claim victory? Find out below!

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight stars Rashad Evans and Ryan Bader will collide this Saturday (Oct. 3, 2015) at UFC 192 inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

It's been little less than two years since Rashad Evans last stepped into the Octagon. The former 205-pound kingpin has never taken such a lengthy absence from the sport, and he's looking to prove his old ranking near the top of the division is still true.

Meanwhile, Bader has been fighting and winning. Unfortunately, "Darth" has received little attention despite the success, notably being skipped over when UFC was looking for a title challenger for Daniel Cormier. The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winner hopes to change that by smashing "Suga."

Let's take a closer look at the keys to victory for each fighter:

Rashad Evans
Record: 21-3-1
Key Wins: Phil Davis (UFC on FOX 2), Dan Henderson (UFC 161), Chuck Liddell (UFC 88)
Key Losses: Jon Jones (UFC 145), Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (UFC 156)
Keys to Victory: Evans is one of the finest mixed martial arts (MMA) wrestlers to ever fight inside the Octagon. The smaller Light Heavyweight could bounce in-and-out with sudden and well-timed takedown attempts that few others could hope to match, and that ability carried him over many top fighters.

It doesn't hurt that Evans can crack, too, evidenced by his eight knockout wins.

In this bout, speed and movement will be critical for Evans. Bader has worked a lot on developing his footwork, but it's still a major work in progress. Therefore, Evans should force Bader to react to his footwork, either by forcing Bader to keep turning to keep up with him or getting his foe to reach for him.

Either way, Evans should avoid direct exchanges of punches when possible. That's a young man's game, and Evans needs to fight intelligently and score with well-timed strikes and takedowns when the opportunity arises.

In addition, I'd like to see Evans more active with his kicks. Neither man is a very active kicker, but Evans has spent years training with Henri Hooft. If he incorporates more kicks into his attack, it could be the difference in a close fight.


Ryan Bader
Record: 19-4
Key Wins: Phil Davis (UFC on FOX 14), Ovince St. Preux (UFC Fight Night 47), Quinton Jackson (UFC 144)
Key Losses: Glover Teixeira (UFC Fight Night 28), Lyoto Machida (UFC on FOX 4)
Keys to Victory: Bader may not receive any credit, but he's a damn talented fighter. The powerful wrestler has become a fairly skilled boxer as well, and he's become much more fluid as an MMA fighter in the last couple years.

In this bout, Bader needs to put the pressure on Evans. The former champion is now 36 years old and has been fighting since 2011 -- that's about the point when most fighters begin to fall off pretty severely.

If that's the case, Evans will have a tough time keeping up with Bader. Pressure and volume are the quickest ways to tire out any opponent, and Bader should rely on both. Plus, he should test the waters with a few takedown attempts, as that is his specialty.

Even if Evans is still in peak form, it would behoove Bader to put punches in bunches on his opponent anyway. Evans has always been hittable, and Bader has legitimate power. As Evans showed Chuck Liddell many years ago, it only takes one punch.

Bottom Line: The winner of this fight is likely next in line for the title, unless Jon Jones is cleared to fight by UFC.

Evans has been gone for a long time, it's true. However, light heavyweight really hasn't changed all that much. The top fighters are still largely the same -- "Rampage" and "Shogun" are somehow still in the top 10 after all their ups and downs -- and there are few major prospects. If Evans performs well this bout, his position at the top of the division is pretty set in stone.

On the other hand, a loss would very likely mean that Evans is starting to decline. Unfortunately, that's how combat sports work.

This should be a major opportunity for Bader. Evans has not lost to many men, and Bader could put himself on that short list. While that should give him some major attention, I can't be confident that it actually will. After all, Bader's wins over "Rampage" Jackson and Phil Davis did little to help his current situation.

So who really knows? Maybe Bader will continue being ignore even if he separates "Suga" from his senses inside a round.

On the other hand, a loss will hurt. Bader's struggled mightily to build momentum will winning, and a loss would completely erase all that work. It would likely take another major streak for "Darth" to sniff the title once more.

At UFC 192, Rashad Evans and Ryan Bader will battle for Light Heavyweight relevance. Which fighter will be the victor?

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