Johnson looked like a world-beater in each of his UFC fights with the exception of his championship loss to Daniel Cormier. However, a victory last night would earn him an opportunity to avenge that loss and complete his rise to the top.
On the other hand, a string of improvement and consistent performances brought Bader into the position of contender. Despite the impressive win streak, the All-American wrestler still needed another victory here to receive a shot at the strap.
This one didn't last long
To watch Anthony Johnson vs. Ryan Bader full fight video highlights from UFC on FOX 18 last night click here.
Bader wasted no time in going for a single leg takedown, but his opponent sprawled out without much issue. Bader was stretched out and tried to hang on, but "Rumble was nonetheless able to circle around to his opponent's back. From there, Bader attempted to latch onto a kimura and roll with it.
At first, Bader had decent position to roll his opponent, but Johnson kept heavy and slowly moved into better position. At some point, Bader's kimura became a liability, as he was no longer in a threatening position yet continued to hold on.
This allowed Johnson to move into the mount. From this dominant position, he quickly freed himself from the kimura and began slamming home punches into Bader's skull.
It didn't take more than a few punches to end Bader's night.
This was another genuinely terrifying victory for "Rumble." His opponent didn't accomplish a single thing, as Johnson ruthlessly destroyed him like Bader wasn't even trying.
Furthermore, this is one of the best wins of Johnson's career. People like to talk shit on Bader and undervalue him, but he's easily one of the best Light Heavyweights in the world and a tough challenge for most anyone. Despite all his success and improvement, Johnson simply walked through him.
Without a doubt, this went as badly as possible for Ryan Bader. The game plan of drawing Johnson into a grappling exchange -- even if it meant giving up bottom position -- was not necessarily a bad one, but the execution was flawed. Bader hung onto that kimura for far too long and then found himself in a position that he could not escape, forced to endure his opponent's full power.
Precisely what he had hoped to avoid.
Following this devastating loss, Bader is once again far from a title shot. He's likely going to have to build a decent win streak to get back to this point, as the UFC will likely force him to take a big step back. For example, a bout with Patrick Cummins is feasible.
Last night, Anthony Johnson brutally knocked his opponent out in about 90 seconds. Can Johnson ever attain UFC gold?