While the Aussie is hoping for a career breakthrough, Bader is just looking to be perfect. Is that asking for too much?
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At first glance, the UFC Fight Night matchup between Ryan Bader and Anthony Perosh doesn’t make a lot of sense. Even at second glance, it might not get any clearer. After all, Bader has long been considered a major talent, with career wins over Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, while Perosh is something of a journeyman in the midst of a career renaissance.
So what brought the pair together? Just a simple request. When the UFC did a press conference to announce the event, Perosh said he wanted on the card, and when a fan suggested Bader as a possibility, he said he would indeed like the matchup.
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In the last hours before the square off, that was news to Bader, who didn’t know he’d essentially been successfully called out by a less renowned opponent.
"That’s great," he told FOX Sports. "Coming off a loss, I’ve never backed down from a fight. Really whoever UFC puts in front of us, we step up and we fight them. But yeah, that gets me going even a little bit more."
I’ve never backed down from a fight.
Although Bader went on to add that he also finds it a bit flattering, he admitted he didn’t quite know why the UFC was interested in the fight. On the other hand, he’s also of the mindset that turning down fights is not a wise idea. After all, you never know when the next offer is coming.
Meanwhile for Perosh, he never knew if his big opportunity would come if he didn’t ask for it. While Bader recently fell out of the UFC’s top 10, he’s spent plenty of time on the list in his past, and for Perosh, it was the chance to illustrate his worth against a proven commodity. Despite a streak of wins in four of his last five matches, he’s still fighting for every scrap of consideration and respect.
In that way, it’s been a long ride for Perosh, who turned 41 in October. For a time, it never seemed he’d get here. In his first UFC tenure back in 2006, he flamed out, with losses to Jeff Monson and Christian Wellisch in heavyweight bouts.
Soon after though, he dropped to 205 punds where his success has been much more consistent. Most impressively, all four of his wins during his recent UFC stretch have come via finish. He appeared to hit a speed bump when he lost to Ryan Jimmo in July 2012, but he quickly extinguished any thoughts that he was reaching his end when he knocked out Vinny Magalhaes in 14 seconds.
"After every loss, there’s always doubt," Perosh told FOX Sports . "If you fall down 50 times, as long as you get up 51. I’ve gotten up every time [I lost] and gone forward. I’m getting the results I want. There’s no reason to quit or stop, so I’m going to keep going."
My whole 10-year MMA career is to get a chance to fight a top 10 guy.
And finally, he’s going to do so against a known name. A successful performance against Bader will open both eyes and doors.
To date, the most recognizable names on his win ledger are the aforementioned Magalhaes and Cyrille Diabate, who he beat by rear naked choke submission in 2011. In previous major fights with Jeff Monson (when Monson was a heavyweight title contender) and Mirko Cro Cop, Perosh fell flat, with two finish losses. Against Bader, most expect him to similarly struggle; he’s one of the biggest underdogs on the card at 4-to-1. Yet he’s undeniably imbued with confidence as he seeks a breakthrough win.
"It’s what I’ve been working towards, not only for the last fight or last few years," Perosh said. "My whole 10-year MMA career is to get a chance to fight a top 10 guy and move up the ranks to get closer to a title shot. And now, Saturday is my chance."
It is, but it’s also a chance for Bader. He won’t be able to quiet his critics in one fell swoop. They’ll continue to voice their doubt until he finds more consistency. That’s something that’s eluded Bader. It’s also something that drives him forward, even in fights where he’s supposed to win big.
"Coming off a loss, I didn’t have much choice or say in who I’m going to fight," he said. "I would want to fight a contender but that doesn’t happen every time. I’m looking at this as a really tough fight even though he’s not in the top 10. He’s a good fighter and he’s going to try to take me out.
"I want to have as close to a perfect fight as I can," he continued, "And I want this fight to be that fight."