UFC 174: Pivotal Ryan Bader, Rafael Cavalcante Light Heavyweight Matchup Has Explosive Potential

By Rick LaFitte
Ryan Bader punishes Anthony Perosh at UFC Fight Night 33
Getty Images

Two heavy-handed light heavyweights should produce a crowd-pleasing affair this weekend at UFC 174. Ryan Bader and Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante have a track record when it comes to knockout wins, and both competitors are aiming to move up the 205-pound ladder.

Bader is a former winner of The Ultimate Fighter and has been a perennial top-10 contender during a 13-fight UFC career. The knock against him has been a failure to get the job done against elite competition. He turned in a dominant effort against Anthony Perosh in Australia in his last assignment at Fight Night 33. “Darth” laid a frightful beating on his veteran opponent in earning the unanimous decision win but suffered a broken hand in the process.

The TUF Season 8 winner has a strong wrestling background and formidable punching power. He is 9-4 inside the Octagon with notable wins over Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. The No. 9 ranked Bader has also competed against Glover Teixeira, Lyoto Machida, Tito Ortiz and Jon Jones. He has produced 10 finishes in 16 career victories.

Cavalcante certainly shapes up as dangerous test for Bader’s chin because of his formidable punching power. “Feijao” has 11 knockouts in 12 career victories and has recorded seven first-round finishes. The biggest win of his career came against Muhammed ”King Mo” Lawal back in 2010 to capture the Strikeforce title. He also owns a knockout win over top-15 UFC middleweight Yoel Romero.

The talented and explosive Brazilian is 1-1 in his Octagon career. He rebounded from a first-round knockout loss to Thiago Silva by demolishing veteran Igor Pokrajac at Fight Night 32. The No. 11 ranked Cavalcante can be a frustrating performer because of his inconsistency. While he’s a threat to anyone on his best nights, he has been knocked out three times when he’s not at the top of his game.

This matchup is very likely to produce an emphatic finish in Vancouver. Both competitors have proven power and have also been victimized by knockout losses. The winner of this clash will be well-positioned to enjoy some exciting future opportunities in the light heavyweight division, while the loser will drop several rungs down the ladder.

Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports

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