All the talk of Ryan Bader turning into the gatekeeper of the UFC's 205-pound division was quickly put to rest after his 15-minute beat down of former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Rafael ‘Feijao' Cavalcante.
The former Arizona State wrestling All-American set the tone early by using his much improved striking to set up his cage rattling takedowns against the fence, followed by some vicious ground and pound. While he continued to work the body with short elbows, Bader let loose a thunderous knee to Feijao's rib cage that seemed to echo throughout the arena just as the opening round came to a close.
"I thought he would come out more explosively in the first round, but he wasn't able to turn it on until the third," Bader said. "Going into this fight, I knew that I was going to have to put him against the fence and grind him out."
As the second round began Bader looked to pick things up right where he left them. Peppering the visibly exhausted Feijao with a series of jabs, Bader landed several takedowns seemingly at will as his opponent turtled up against the cage.
Knowing he was down two rounds, Feijao's corner warned him he would have to finish this fight if he would have any hopes of winning. So with a sense of desperation the Brazilian rushed forward with a flurry of strikes, with the hope of landing the flash knockout early in the final round. While he may have landed a handful of shots, Feijao was never able to mount any offense as Bader clinched up before bringing the fight back down to the canvas. Pummeling his downed opponent with short elbows to the ribs and hammerfists to the skull, Bader maintained control from the top position for the rest of the fight.
While he didn't secure the finish, Bader dominated the entire fight with his grinding wrestling attack, which successfully nullified the heavy hands of Feijao.
"Feijao is one of the hardest hitters in the division," said Bader. "I wanted to take away that one punch KO power."
This gives Bader his second straight win following another one-sided victory over Anthony Perosh back at UFC Fight Night 33 in December. His career record now pushes to 17-4 with a UFC record of 10-4. Meanwhile Feijao drops to 12-5 with a UFC record of 1-1.