Back in 2008, declaring that Ryan Bader would beat Antonio Rogerio Nogueira would've gotten you laughed out of the room. Bader, was a one-dimensional wrestler, when he swept to a victory out of what turned out to be a weak field of light heavyweights on Season 8 of "The Ultimate Fighter." Just two years later, his striking has improved vastly and so has his stamina and submission defense. That evolving package was more than enough to help Bader take a unanimous decision, 30-27 on all cards, from Nogueira in the co-main event at UFC 119.
Nogueira (19-4, 2-1 UFC) is a well-rounded veteran who's been in there with the likes of Vladimir Matyushenko, Dan Henderson, Kazushi Sakuraba, Alistair Overeem and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. But he looked tentative throughout the night. He was worried about getting too close to Bader (12-0, 6-0 UFC) and for good reason because the former Arizona State All-American dumped him on his rear end several times.
Bader also landed some solid punches when the fighters mixed it up. The 27-year-old prospect also finished strong. That's been an issue in the past but not anymore for the thickly muscled Bader.