Anthony Johnson demolishes Ryan Bader with vicious first-round KO
It's well known that Anthony "Rumble" Johnson might be the hardest-hitting light heavyweight fighter on the roster, but he doesn't need to be on his feet to put an opponent away with his head-rattling power.
Ryan Bader found that out the hard way on Saturday night in Newark, N.J., suffering a knockout loss just 1:26 into the first round.
The matchup between Johnson and Bader headlined the latest UFC Fight Night card on FOX with the winner likely moving into position to challenge for the 205-pound title later this year against either Daniel Cormier or Jon Jones.
While Bader was riding a five-fight win streak going into the night, he was still a sizable underdog to Johnson, who was fresh off a knockout over Jimi Manuwa from this past September.
Knowing just how dangerous Johnson was on his feet, Bader wasted no time looking to shoot in and use his All-American wrestling to bring the fight to the ground.
Unfortunately for Bader, Johnson was ready to counter his wrestling, and he quickly sprawled to the mat and pushed the former "Ultimate Fighter" champion's head into the ground.
Bader immediately latched onto an arm and attempted to grab a Kimura shoulder lock from the bottom, but Johnson just stayed patient and wiggled his way up the body while loosening his arm from the hold.
Eventually, Johnson moved into the mount and Bader was no longer holding onto the submission trying to get the win — he essentially was holding on for dear life so he wouldn't get trapped underneath his opponent against the cage in the worst possible submission.
Once Johnson worked his arm free, he started to rain down a series of heavy punches while Bader could only roll to his stomach to try to avoid some of the damage.
It didn't take long, and it certainly didn't take many as Johnson's power shots not only slipped through Bader's defense, but quickly rendered the top-five light heavyweight unconscious as the referee dragged Johnson off and put an end to the punishment.
"There was either going to be two things: he was going to play it safe or he was going to go right in and come after me. He did one of the two and he came right after me," Johnson said about Bader's strategy in the fight.
"I never get full mount. How you all like my jiu-jitsu now? People can always say whatever they want to say about me. I'm always training hard, I'm always going to do my best, I'm always going to come out here and perform at the best of my ability. I just want to have fun when I'm out here. I'm not trying to prove anything to anybody."
Johnson now moves to 5-1 since returning to the UFC as a light heavyweight, with his only loss coming by way of submission to current champion Cormier. Johnson likely will have to sit and wait for now as Cormier is expected to face former 205-pound king Jones in a few months before moving on to a new contender.
Johnson never has been a big talker when it comes to his fights, but his performance on Saturday night spoke volumes, and there's no doubt Cormier and Jones were paying attention.
"I will be waiting for whoever has that belt," Johnson said.
As for Bader, the loss is definitely a huge setback after the strongest period of his career since joining the UFC after winning "The Ultimate Fighter" season eight.
“It wasn’t the strategy to shoot on him right away," Bader explained. "I was originally going to try to stick and move. I tried to fake a shot and come up with a left hook and he ended up taking me down. Figured I had a Kimura on there looking to sweep him and stand back up. I got to a point where I was just trying to get to my knees and before I knew it, it was over. It felt like I didn’t get to show what I could do out there.”
Prior to the loss, Bader had amassed his best win streak while toppling a slew of ranked opponents along the way. But now he will have to begin his climb back up the ladder following the knockout loss to Johnson on Saturday night.