As a former All-American wrestler at division I Arizona State, Ryan Bader is no stranger to success. While in high school Bader won two state championships and was ranked as high as fourth in the country. While in College he compiled an amazing 120 wins while earning All-American honors twice and he was also a three time PAC 10 champion.
After fighting on some smaller circuits Bader was cast on the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter and was coach Antonio Noguiera’s first overall pick. He did not disappoint as he plowed through the competition defeating Vinny Magalhaes in the finale to earn the six figure contract.
Bader trains at Arizona Combat Sports with fellow Arizona State teammate C.B. Dolloway, Jamie Varner, Aaron Simpson and Carlos Condit. Bader recently defeated UFC and WEC veteran Carmelo Marrero at the UFC Fight Night on April 1 by unanimous decision. Unfortunately the victory did not come without consequences as Bader suffered a knee injury during the first round of the fight. On the bright side the injury wasn’t as serious as first believed and Bader should be back in action before you know it.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com recently had the chance to speak with Bader and found him to be extremely articulate and engaging while holding nothing back. Here is how the conversation went down.
Bryan Levick for FiveOuncesOfPain.com: What was the exact nature of the injury you suffered during your fight against Carmelo Marrerro April 1?
Ryan Bader: I tore my MCL off the bone on my knee and I tore my PCL. I am going in for another MRI in about an hour. I completely tore my MCL but as of right now I am not going to require surgery which is good so I will just try and let it heal up right now.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: How long do you think you will out of action for?
Ryan Bader: I was told about 6 weeks and right now I am not doing much as far as any wrestling or grappling, I have to wait to start that back up we just have to see how the rehab goes. I am in the gym hitting the mitts so it’s not too bad.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: How and when did the injury occur?
Ryan Bader: It was in the first round, I had taken him down and had passed into side control and my toes got caught up on his knee a little bit and I hurt a loud pop. While I was down it didn’t hurt too much but when I stood back up I could feel it.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: How would you grade your overall performance?
Ryan Bader: I am my toughest critic and I felt like I could have used more jiu-jitsu, when I had his back I could have thrown in the hooks but it was difficult maybe because of the injury to my knee. Other than that I am fine with it. My stand up could have been tighter. The injury caused me to change up my game plan a little bit. It is what it is and I am happy to have won.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: During the first round I was impressed with your attempt at an arm bar, I didn’t really see any jiu-jitsu from you while on the The Ultimate Fighter. Who is you BJJ trainer these days?
Ryan Bader: Gustavo Dantas is the instructor down here at Arizona Combat Sports. He was won the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world championship a couple of times. He is the main coach. I did practice jiu-jitsu while on the show and I learned a lot from Noguiera. You will see more jiu-jitsu from me as I get more comfortable as the fights go on.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Regarding your time spent on The Ultimate Fighter what did you do to keep yourself occupied while in the house?
Ryan Bader: Well there really was nothing to do so we sat around and told stories most of the time. We just tried to keep busy and I looked forward to training twice a day. We would cook dinner together and spent time in the hot tub talking about our past.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Was it hard not to get caught up in all of the extra-curricular activities?
Ryan Bader: Sometimes especially when it was all around you but you just have to focus on your goals at hand. I wanted to win the show and that’s all I needed to stay away from all the crap going on around me. I just stuck to my goals and didn’t worry about getting drunk all the time.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Was there ever a time that you wanted to grab a hold of Junie and tell him to knock it off?
Ryan Bader: Oh yeah first was the swimming pool incident and then when he threw the glass at Kyle. There were a couple of times when I just said what is wrong with you and I wanted to beat his ass but we knew we would get in trouble so we learned to keep our cool no matter how much he provoked us.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: How were you contacted about being a contestant on the show?
Ryan Bader: I was kind of recruited a little bit. C.B. Dolloway who is one of my training partners was on the show the season before and he put in a word for me. At the time I was undefeated with 6 or 7 wins. So I went and tried out and passed all the medicals and the rest is history.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: What was it like training under Noguiera?
Ryan Bader: It was amazing I got to watch how a true champion trains day in and day out, he was one of the coolest guys I have ever met and I can’t say enough good things about him. Just watching him work actually help me elevate my game. He forced us to be a team and we were tight. That is why both winners came from our team. The whole coaching staff was amazing they invited me to come down to Miami to train before The Ultimate Fighter Finale and it was truly amazing working with all of them.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Were you surprised at the outcome of his fight with Mir?
Ryan Bader: Yes, I was surprised to watch the fight and see it end like that. I had heard he had a staph infection and it was hard to watch but he will be back. He is fighting Randy Couture soon and he will be back in true form.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: What other MMA fighters attended Arizona State University with you?
Ryan Bader: Cain Velasquez who is one of the UFC’s top heavyweight prospects. He graduated with C.B. Dolloway and myself and we were All-Americans. Aaron Simpson was one of our assistant coaches, he had a big knockout victory on the same card I fought on April 1.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: What is it like having Carlos Condit part of the Arizona Combats Sports team?
Ryan Bader: Having Carlos here is awesome he came in and immediately elevated the intensity of the room. He has a lot of great knees and elbows and we needed that at the gym. We have a lot of great wrestlers and kick boxers but he brings a whole new dimension to the gym. He is an extremely hard worker and when we were all training for our fights together it was amazing the way we all pushed each other. He will not let anyone slack off and he has been a great addition to our camp.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Your camp is quickly becoming one of the top camps in MMA. Who are some of the younger guys you train with that we should keep our eyes on?
Ryan Bader: We have a ton of younger guys in fact there are too many too name. Jacob McClintock is coming up he is a jiu-jitsu guy. We have some guys who are fighting in the Bellator tournament. Basically anyone who fights at Arizona Combat Sports you should watch out for.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com:: Besides your wrestling what would you say are your strengths?
Ryan Bader: I have pretty heavy hands in the gym I am getting better and better with my stand-up.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: What are the areas you feel you need to work on most?
Ryan Bader: I would say throwing combinations kick boxing wise. I need to learn to throw more combinations.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Were you a fan of MMA growing up?
Ryan Bader: I watched it here and there but I didn’t think about fighting until I got out of college. Jesse Forbes came in and was fighting Matt Hamill and he needed some wrestlers to spar with. So I went into the gym and was just going to train and how things went. Then I had my first fight and I loved it and stuck to it.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Who are some of the fighters around today that you really enjoy watching?
Ryan Bader: I really like watching Nogueira fight. Getting to train with him for six weeks gave me a great appreciation for what he does in his fights. I really like watching any wrestler fight, someone with the same background as me. I also really like watching Couture and Dan Henderson fight as well.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Who do you think will win the rematch between Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar?
Ryan Bader: I would have to say Lesnar as he is too big and too strong. I think he has learned and grown a lot in the year that has passed since they fought the first time. Mir told us that when he was on the ground and Lesnar was on top of him that those were some of the hardest punches he has ever felt even though Mir is saying different now he was pretty clear when he was telling us about it while on the show.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: If there was one fighter from the past that you could fight who would it be?
Ryan Bader: I would actually like to fight Royce Gracie in one of the early tournaments when he was wrecking everybody. Just to see how much MMA has progressed since then.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Is there anyone you would like to thank? Your fans or any sponsors?
Ryan Bader: I have my website up it is www.ryanbader.com and you can see videos on there of me training. I also have a blog on there and you will see my sponsors. I would really like to thank Klenz Towel for their support you can visit their site at www.klenztowel.com they are doing a whole program to support the troops. If anyone sends a box over to the troops I will send them a autographed photo and they will be doing something to help out the troops which is really cool.