Wednesday November 11, 2015– One of the most anticipated matches in UFC history, with the return of the former champion Jon Jones the number one contender for champion Daniel Cormier has been up in the air for a while now. With all signs pointing to Jon Jones getting his title shot against Cormier, that leaves the two top contenders in the light heavyweight division to go one on one with each other. Rumble Johnson got his title shot with Cormier and lost and since then had a big KO victory over Poster boy Jimi Manuwa. Ryan Bader who is on the biggest winning streak of his career has beaten everyone including his latest win against #6 ranked contender former champion Suga Rashad Evans. Now Bader was set to face Cormier before he became champion early in 2015, but with Jones being stripped and suspended Cormier stepped into face Johnson. With Rumble being the #1 contender and after his latest victory he believes that he should have next shot after Bones Jones. Bader however feels that he has done enough with his big winning streak to earn the next shot, as he was quoted to say
“I guess I have to beat all of the contenders to get a title shot”.
Johnson knew that he had to face Bader before he could really be named the next guy in line to get his title shot, so the twitter war began as Rumble would let the MMA world and Bader and his team know that he wanted to fight him. Bader responded with
“We respect Rumble but are focus is on a title shot”.
With the news that Jones has been reinstated, the UFC made the announcement that the #1 contender will be decided when Johnson and Bader go one on one in 2016 at UFC Fight Night Newark on Fox.
Anthony Rumble Johnson (20-5) is one of the most deadliest fighters in all of MMA. As he has lights out power to end the fight in the blink of an eye. With an amazing background in striking and even having a background in wrestling, Johnson has the skills to be champion. With victories over Little Nog, Alexander Gustafsson, and Phil Davis Rumble earned his title shot against Jon Jones, but with the suspension of Jones Rumbles next opponent was Daniel Cormier. The fight didn’t go as well as Rumble wanted, he was back in the gym training for his next fight when one would become available. After getting the Manuwa fight, Rumble knew he was in a must win situation with such a packed division and other contenders climbing up the ladder. After Rumble beat Manuwa by KO at UFC191, he knew that next was a title shot. After seeing what Bader did at UFC192, Rumble knew there was one more test before he could get his title shot. Back in the gym with the Blackzilians and head coach Henri Hooft, Rumble begins to prepare for Bader by working on not only his strengths but also his weaknesses. Johnson knows that this is a five round fight against Bader and he will need to work on his stamina to assure that he stays in the fight all the way through. Rumble needs to not only look for the KO but also has to be ready for Bader’s wrestling and ground game. Bader will try to stretch the fight out, Rumble in defense needs to make sure that he doesn’t punch himself out and find the openings that he needs to win like he did against Gustafsson and Manuwa and the fight will be his.
Ryan Bader (21-4) is maybe the hottest fighter in the division, and he has the 5 fight win streak to prove it and 3 of the win were against fighters in the top 5 at the time. Bader is one of the most well polished fighters in all of MMA. An excellent wrestler and striker really keeps his opponents on their feet at all times. If you look at his last victories nothing really flashy but in the long run when your hand is raised that is all that matters. Bader who was supposed to face Cormier back in the summer of 2015 in New Orleans, had to take a step aside as Cormier went on to fight for title and Bader had to wait for another fight to come available. Bader took his time to find an opponent, as he waited till the return of Suga Rashad Evans at UFC192. The waiting payed off for Bader as he clearly dominated the returning former champion and cruised to the victory. Bader wanted the next shot at Cormier and I think everyone knows that with their issues at press conferences almost coming to blows a few times, and if he can’t get past Rumble then he might get his wish. The main goal for Bader is to try to stretch the fight out with Rumble, make him work. Don’t look for a knock out, try to work in your wrestling game as much as you can. If Bader can work to his strengths and fight the same fight that he’s been fighting on his 5 fight win streak he should find himself the victor and on his way to the next title shot.
When these two warriors come face to face in New Jersey there is more than just the #1 contender on the line, but also the pride that both men are craving. Both fighters know they want that shot at the gold but they also know that they want to be known the official #1 contender in the light heavyweight division. To have everyone else behind them and nothing but a straight road to UFC gold.
By: Rick San Bartolome