On April 1 Ryan Bader makes his first UFC appearance since knocking out Vinny Magalhaes to win the last season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” The former Arizona State wrestling standout now has to live up to his billing with a victory in his first post-TUF bout against experienced vet Carmelo Marrero. But as Bader told us in our exclusive talk with him, he’s aware that winning is necessary, though it isn’t enough by itself. He also has to entertain, and therein lies a difficult conflict for a wrestler trying to dazzle knockout-happy crowds.
CagePotato.com: Thanks for talking with us, Ryan. Now that you’re the TUF winner and getting ready to start your UFC career, is it how you though it would be when you first started on the show?
I went into the show and set high goals for myself. My goal was to make it to the finale. That was as far as I thought. Then I did that and there was six months until the finale, and obviously my goal was to win the whole show. But I set little goals for myself and accomplished them one at a time, and then set bigger goals. After I won the show, my goal became to keep winning the fights in front of me, and that’s where I am now. Eventually my goal is to have the belt. I don’t want to be just another fighter. I want that belt. I know it’s going to take a long time. I need to grow as a fighter and that’s all a long way off, so my immediate goal is to win each fight and chip away at the division.
I read recently where you said you thought too many wrestlers were taking unnecessary risks to win fights in exciting fashion. When you fight, do you struggle with trying to be exciting and also not taking too many chances?