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Will TUF Winner Ryan Bader Be A Future Contender In The UFC Light Heavyweight Division?

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When you look at Ryan Bader and his skillset, you automatically think he could be successful in MMA. He possesses good power in his hands, and is a highly decorated amateur wrestler from Arizona State University. Those are two attributes that have taken many fighters to the promised. Rashad Evans, Chuck Liddell, and Dan Henderson I can name right off the top of my head. He has also showed flashes of the ability to transition well on te ground, most notably against Carmelo Marrero. However, I really started to analyze Bader after his performance against Keith Jardine at UFC 110. Yes, it's true that he won in devastating fashion, but will he really be a contender in the UFC light heavyweight shark tank? Let's check out his UFC 110 performance:

Let's do some background on Jardine and what he brings to the table:

-Unorthodox with poor defense

-Has Good Cardio

-Has great leg kicks

-Is pretty difficult to take down and keep down

-Chin is questionable

I think Jardine was a logical step up in competition, as he's fought competitively with some of the best in the world as a light heavyweight. We've seen Bader use his wrestling to defeat lesser opponents, but he was forced to use his standup against Jardine for the most part. Here are some stats:

-Bader went for 8 takedowns and was successful on 3 of them for a take down percentage of 38%

-He landed 58% of his strikes(52 of 90), but 20 of those were on the ground and 13 were leg kicks/knees. So his actual ‘striking' percentage is skewed just a bit.

-Jardine landed 100% of his leg kicks against Bader

Overall, I thought Bader won the first round pretty easily with one take down as he was able to keep Jardine down for a bit and land some ground and pound for the majority of his damage. In the second round, Bader seemed to gas just a bit(a running theme for him) and was on successful on 20% of his take downs(1 of 5) against Jardine in a fairly even round that probably could have went to Bader. I think Bader's cardio allowed Jardine to stuff his shots relatively easy, along with not having the striking ability to set up his shots properly. In the third round, it was fairly even until Bader landed the strike that rocked Jardine and then he proceeded to put Jardine away.

Jardine is a guy that's difficult to take down, but I think someone with Bader's credentials should have a higher percentage of successful take downs against him. The underlying factors are that Bader's cardio was an issue again, and he's not setting up his take downs well with his striking. Overall, he wasn't that successful in hitting Jardine while they were standing, and Jardine's defense isn't the best in the world as I mentioned earlier. Jardine is a guy that's tough, but he's not blessed with a lot of physical gifts in regards to speed, agility, and things of that nature. He will not have that luxury as he continues to move up against better competition, so Bader will need to address his cardio issues and improve his striking to become a legitimate light heavyweight in my opinion.