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Ryan Bader: At UFC 110, 'I'll Be the One With My Arm Raised'

Ryan Bader is best known to MMA fans for winning The Ultimate Fighter in 2008. But as he prepares to fight Keith Jardine at UFC 110, Bader says he's a much better fighter now than he was then.

"I've improved in pretty much all areas of my game," Bader told MMAFighting.com. "I was very new to the sport when I entered The Ultimate Fighter and basically got by on my athletic ability and my wrestling. I've since added a lot more tools to my game and continue to develop as a mixed martial artist."

Bader has a professional record of 10-0, plus three more wins during his time on The Ultimate Fighter, but he hasn't fought anyone as good as Jardine. But that doesn't mean he views his fight on Saturday differently than the other fights in his MMA career.

"This is just another fight for me," Bader said. "I don't put Jardine on a pedestal or worry about any kind of step-up. He's just another fighter standing in the way of me achieving my goal. I just focus on going out there and beating Keith Jardine. I don't think about what he's done in the past or how dangerous he might be. He's just the same as the 13 other guys I've faced."

Jardine has a unique stand-up style that has given fits to some tough opponents (including Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin, both of whom Jardine beat) but has also left him susceptible to opponents with serious punching power (Houston Alexander, Wanderlei Silva and Thiago Silva all knocked Jardine out in less than two minutes). Bader acknowledged that it's a curious style for his sparring partners to prepare him for.

"As far as his crazy style goes, it's hard to mimic him, but a couple of guys in the gym have watched videos on him and attempted to copy him a bit," Bader said. "Other than that, it's just about watching tapes and spotting certain tendencies he has in the Octagon. It's true what they say, though, he's very hard to train for in terms of style. He's very unpredictable, but I'm confident of controlling him. I think my wrestling, combined with my improving stand-up, is going to be a hard mixture for him to deal with and guess where I'm going. I've fought four legitimate black belts in my career and have had to carry out specific game plans for each of them. This is the first fight where I can truly open up, use all my skills and combine my wrestling with my boxing and kick-boxing. This is almost a freestyle kind of fight, and not one where you have to worry too much about a set game plan. This fight could go anywhere at any point, and that's exciting to me."

Ultimately, Bader said, he'd like to stop Jardine, but he doesn't want to press it.

"I don't have a goal or game plan to knock Jardine out," Bader said. "I know it can happen at any time in the fight. I'm aware of the fact that when Jardine loses, it's often quick and spectacular. He's also good at grinding results out in his longer fights. I'm also a grinder, though, and I've gone the distance in my last two fights. I'm not opposed to that kind of fight if it happens. If we end up going a hard and grueling three rounds, I'll be more than ready and prepared for it. Whether I win by stoppage in the first or it goes three rounds, I'll be the one with my arm raised."

Bader said he thinks a win over Jardine can set him up for big things in the future.

"I have short-terms goals and long-terms goals in this sport," Bader said. "My long-term goal is to become the UFC champion and to hold that 205-pound title. If you're not really in it to do that, why even bother with a sport like this? I'm not in the UFC to be mediocre. I also know I can't just get there automatically. I've got to create short-term goals and simply concentrate on winning the fight that is immediately in front of me."