Ryan Bader Needs To Learn Some Defense

July 3, 2011 – 9:02 pm by McD

Remember when we said it looked like Tito Ortiz was done in the UFC after his fight Saturday night against Ryan Bader? I mean we could have deleted it and pretended like nothing happened, but I’m sure some dick helpful fellow would have found it in Google;s cache anyway. Besides, Ortiz’s win is proof that the wrestlers who are all over the UFC at various levels are in quite a bit of trouble.

Ortiz’s submission win got him “submission of the night” honors from the UFC and some fairly glowing reactions from fellow fighters. Ortiz has been at this MMA thing for a while, I guess. Plus, he’s been through some craziness in his personal life as well as several back injuries that have sidetracked his career. He was once the most recognizable face in the UFC, people.

But Ortiz is 36 and hadn’t won a fight since 2006 when he TKO’d Ken Shamrock for the second time in four months. People probably assumed Ortiz was equally washed up since Shamrock looked old six years ago, and Tito hadn’t looked much better since. Shamrock is still fighting and is still Ken Shamrock, by the way. Ortiz also hadn’t submitted anyone since UFC 29 (!) against Yuki Kondo.

Ortiz never had much stand-up game to begin with, which makes the solid right that floored Bader look that much worse. That lack of boxing ability is what got Ortiz nearly killed by Chuck Liddell and made him look slow and awful against Lyoto Machida. Even Ortiz’s famed ground and pound game abandoned him in his most recent loss, a unanimous decision to Matt “The Hammer” Hamill. You’d think Bader, a wrestler and ground and pound guy in his own right, would have game planned for Ortiz’s standup to make it at least a draw on the feet and then just physically overwhelm the older, slower Ortiz.

Ortiz is still washed up, mind you. It’s Ryan Bader who is going to have to do a major career reassessment.

There are too many guys who are labeled as having “good stand-up” when they really only have the ability to knock people out and are incapable of any kind of boxing defense. Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva, the two best and most successful fighters in the UFC, are both extremely skilled martial artists. What has made them last as champions is that they are extremely hard to hit, and therefore hard to knock out.

St. Pierre even trained with famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach before his fight with Josh Koscheck and now essentially hasn’t been hit hard in two title defenses. Silva almost lost to Chael Sonnen because Sonnen managed to take him down and keep him down, but no one has been able to touch him on his feet in quite some time. Even in actual boxing, the difference between the nobodies and Floyd Mayweather is speed and defense.

The next wave of successful UFC fighters – guys who want to be long-term champions – have got to learn boxing defense. It’s much too easy to get knocked out when guys are swinging hard with four ounce gloves on. It’s one of the main reasons the light-heavyweight division has had six champions since Chuck Liddell was the man in 2005. The heavyweight division has been a similar mess.

Boxing defense, people. Head movement, hand placement, good feet. Watch these highlights again of Bader losing to Ortiz. Bader’s hands are at his chest as Ortiz is rushing in and Bader isn’t moving his feet or his head. He might be worried about a takedown, but the lack of protection for his chin is inexcusable.

I love knockouts and great finishes too, but damn I hate stuff like this. Bader should have overwhelmed Ortiz, but instead he got sloppy in a way that far too many UFC fighters do these days. Learn from the great ones, fellas.

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