Every single time that Ryan Bader steps into the octagon, he improves. Ever since Lyoto Machida punched his chin into the back of his head, he has gotten infinitely better. He now fights smarter, and looks to end the fight anywhere, instead of just searching for the monstrous overhand right.
He had an impressive performance last night at UFC 174 against Rafael Cavalcante. He continually took Cavalcante down and did something that we have not seen from a wrestler in quite a while: he worked the body. Instead of trying to posture up and land blows on the head and face, Bader was content to stay in a safe position and land huge hands to the body and wear down Cavalcante. It was smart and it worked, so hats off to you, Bader.
The only problem with improving in every performance is that as a reward, you get a tougher fight. I think that a match with Anthony Johnson makes perfect sense. Johnson is coming off a seriously impressive win over Phil Davis. While Davis and Bader have similar fighting styles, Bader has way better hands and is then more of a threat on the feet. It would also give the UFC a chance to see who is ready to move forward and try and break into the top-five of the division.
If Johnson and Bader do fight, we will see two wrestlers who will cancel each other out, so that means we get to see a stand-up fight! I think that is a dynamite fight on paper and whoever wins is arguably two fights away from challenging for the title. Set it up!