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Bader Believes Flashy Jones May Tone Down Creative Style for UFC 126 Clash

Ryan Bader walked into the UFC with big hopes of his own to go with the expectations of others who saw a diamond in the rough. The former collegiate wrestling All-American has steadily improved and risen up the UFC light-heavyweight depth chart, first winning The Ultimate Fighter's season eight, before embarking on an octagon career that's seen him go 5-0, with big wins over Keith Jardine, and most recently, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

That victory put him on a collision course with another rising star, Jon Jones. The two will meet at UFC 126 in February 2011, and because the two are likely to be in the championship picture for years to come, it seems to be the type of matchup that at best might ignite a longtime rivalry, and at worst will launch one of the two squarely towards top contender status.

Jones has riveted UFC fans with exciting sequences and awed them with his physical gifts during his bouts. Though 11-1 overall, his only loss came via disqualification due to illegal downward elbows against Matt Hamill in a fight he was otherwise dominating. Jones' wingspan, creativity and go-for-broke approach have given fits to everyone who's stepped into the cage with him. Bader admitted that it's not exactly easy to find someone to emulate Jones in the gym, but wondered whether Jones would have to change his approach due to Bader's skill set.

Noting that he combines power striking and wrestling in a way that none of Jones' opponents have, Bader said that Jones might be making a mistake by attempting some of the high-risk offense he's tried in the past.

"Jon is a great, dynamic, exciting fighter," Bader said while in Auburn Hills, Michigan last week for UFC 123. "He's flashy; spinning elbows, spinning back kicks. I'm more of a grinder, more of a go-out-there, get-the-job-done fighter. I think he has to respect me a little more than he has with his last opponents, of being taken down or landing a big power shot. I'm sure he's going to try some flashy stuff but I think it's going to be more toned down a little bit."

Bader added that with more being at stake, Jones might be more hesitant to call upon the riskier parts of his offense.

"If he's coming in with a spinning back elbow, he has his back turned to you for a split-second there. That could be a double leg [takedown]," he said. "You know he's fought and destroyed some great wrestlers but every fight's different. There's a lot on the line this fight. Where as before, maybe he was going out there just trying to be exciting and win obviously, there's a lot on the line. Potentially a shot at the title later on down the round. That's what we both want, so we'll see. Maybe he'll come out the way he's been fighting, or maybe he'll come out a little more conservative, but I'm going to implement my game plan, worry about myself and what I've got to do, and go from there."

Despite the possibilities, though, Bader (12-0 overall) knows he must concentrate squarely on Jones' immense talents rather than the future rewards that might result from a victory.

"What I'm here to do is go out and win the fight in front of me," Bader said. "Everything else will take care of itself. I go out and win this fight. If I have four more in front of me, I just have to keep my head down and win the next fight, win the next fight, and eventually it'll take care of itself. So I just have to keep my nose to the grindstone and look forward to the fight right now. If I don't win, we're not even talking about [a championship], so I have to win the fight in front of me."

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