Report by Anthony Springer Jr
Photos by Josh Hodges/UFC
Ryan Bader is a happy man these days.
The Arizona fighter was just crowned season eight’s Ultimate Fighter in the light heavyweight division after a first round TKO over Vinny Magalhaes.
Before any trophies and contracts awarded to the former college wrestler, he had to get through the gauntlet known as the infamous Ultimate Fighter house. Though Bader had friend and corner man CB Dollaway to rely on for advice, he says nothing said beforehand offers sufficient preparation for the TV experience.
“He really didn’t try to get too much involved,” Bader said of Dollaway’s advice. “You really couldn’t know what it was like until you were there. He told me what it was like when you got there and about getting a room away from all the noise and places to escape if you wanted to get away from all that. Those are really the only things he told me. Nothing can prepare you for that; cameras in your face and fighting people in the house. It’s an experience that you have to go through to get the gist of it.”
While the pranks on this season were by far the most outrageous, Bader says everything on the show actually went down the way it was seen, though other fighters have protested some of the show’s scenes.
“Here and there, there were some scenes cut out. Everything happened, and that was really how it happened. I think [Frank] Mir came off a little worse than he actually was. They may take a ten minute interview and use the last thirty seconds of what you said.”
One thing that was crystal clear on the show was the family like atmosphere that Team Nogueira displayed. The camaraderie aided the fighters during—and after the show’s filming.
“Nogueira came to us right off the bat and told us we’re a team and we’re going to help each other,” Bader said of the environment. “We had three guys in the finals and two won, we did something right.”
With the win over Magalhaes, Bader is the newest initiate into a fraternity of sorts. Throughout the history of the UFC, former wrestling standouts like Dan Severn, Matt Hughes, and Randy Couture have adapted their wrestling bases to attain Octagon success. Bader hopes to follow in their footsteps.
I think [wrestling is] the best base, you can dictate where the fight goes,” said Bader, who has wrestled since he was eight-years-old. “If I want to keep it on the feet, I can do that. If I want to take it to the ground I can do that. I think it’s the best base you can have in MMA.”
Last night, Bader proved that his wrestling would best Magalhaes’ jiu-jitsu skills. Bader admits that his Team Mir opponent played into his hands during the fight. In pre fight statements. Magalhaes stated that he wanted to win the contest on his feet.
The decision suited Bader just fine.
“Vinny’s a stud on the ground and I didn’t want to be down there with him. When he said he wanted to keep it on the feet, we welcomed that. When he said that I knew we were going to have a good fight.
“It turned out that I was the better man that night.”