UFC 104: "Red" Looks to Snap Bader's String of Wins
Clash of Backgrounds
It has been an embattled road for Schafer, who has had his share of triumphs and hardships in the cage, especially since reaching the pinaccle of mixed martial arts promotions. After battling through tough midwest competition, "Red" launched himself into the UFC, impressively submitting Rob MacDonald back in 2006, but only to be knocked back in TKO losses to Michael Bisping and Stephen Bonner. It was a year later before Schafer wound up in the Octagon again, this time in a similar situation to the one he will face tomorrow night -- a fight against that "next big thing".
Poised to return triumphantly to the UFC, and a mindset to crawl his way up to the top of 205 division, Schafer put away Houston Alexander in a showcase of his jiu-jitsu skills. A few months later, it was a similar fate for Antonio Mendes. So, on the back of a rolling four-fight win streak, the opportunity for "Red" to find reach that next rung is hanging there for the taking.
Similarly, Bader walks in with a victory streak of his own, and a perfect record. But, that is where the similarities end. Bader derives from the West Coast, becoming an MMA fighter out of a college wrestling career, and has strolled into the UFC at just the age of 26. Earning himself a spot on Team Nogueira, Bader won the six-figure contract after making quick work of Vinny Magalhães in the TUF finale. And now, returning from a severe knee injury he suffered back in April, Bader looks to uphold his young phenom status against a wily veteran in a combative clash of styles, and prove to the mixed martial community why he was the first choice of Big Nog.
Clash of Styles
Earning his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under the teaching and direction of Gracie disciple Pedro Sauer, Schafer has consistently been about finishing his opponents, and finishing them on the ground. In his 11 professional victories, seven have been by way of submission. It can be expected that while Bader has a lengthy history of wrestling in his pocket, the mat is where "Red" would like to force tomorrow night's fight to take place. Both Alexander and Mendes posed very little threat on the ground in Schafer's previous battles, and Bader (while he shows more promise than those aforementioned) should be not much different. If Bader spends too much time looking up at the Staples Center ceiling, expect this one to go the way of "Ravishing Red".
An all-American and PAC 10 champion wrestler while at Arizona State, Bader was in the company of fellow UFC warriors Cain Velasquez (who will face Schafer's teammate Ben Rothwell) and C.B. Dolloway. Bader's M.O. to this point has been early and often, and prior to his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter, only one of his previous bouts had need for a third round. However, while the explosiveness of Bader is well-documented outside the Octagon, it has yet to be fully fleshed out within it. His only post-TUF fight resulted in a decision against Carmelo Marrero, who was resoundingly dropped by the UFC after the bout.
Both men are looking to solidify their careers on MMA's largest scale -- one hoping to come into his prime and climb the ladder -- the other trying to take out a veteran and prove he's worth the hype. It should be a hell of a war.
Eric "Ravishing Red" Schafer
- Pro Record: 11-3-2
- Age: 32
- Height: 6'3"
- Reach: 76 inches
- Gym: Roufusport (Milwaukee, WI)
- From: Fond du Lac, WI
- Disciplines/Style: Black belt in BJJ
- Last Fight: Antonio Mendes at UFC 93 (VIDEO)
Ryan "Darth" Bader
- Pro Record: 9-0
- Age: 26
- Height: 6'2"
- Reach: 74 inches
- Gym: Arizona Combat Sports (Tempe, AZ)
- From: Tempe, AZ
- Disciplines/Style: Wrestling
- Last Fight: Carmelo Marrero at UFN 18