Anthony Johnson and Ryan Bader have competed in the UFC a combined total of 33 times. This means we’ve had a ton of footage and information to work with when researching this fight. This has helped us to study how both fighters react in certain situations and predict who has the best chance of winning. Initially, I was unsure of who to bet on in this matchup, but after spending several hours researching this fight, I now feel very confident that Anthony Johnson will win…
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Anthony Johnson vs Ryan Bader Betting Tip Prediction for UFC on FOX 18
Anthony Johnson takes on Ryan Bader in a classic striker vs grappler match up in the main event of UFC on FOX 18. On the surface, it appears that Bader’s strong wrestling could cause Anthony Johnson a problem, but after researching this fight I can assure you that Bader’s style of wrestling shouldn’t be too difficult for Johnson to deal with. It’s important to remember that Anthony Johnson has excellent takedown defence, having defended 78% of all takedown attempts in 16 fights in the UFC.
Since Johnson returned to the UFC, we’ve seen him do really well against a wrestler like Phil Davis, but we’ve also seen him struggle against a wrestler like Daniel Cormier. Ryan Bader isn’t like either of those guys, but Johnson’s performances in both of those fights give us a lot of information that we can use to predict the most likely outcome of this fight.
Ryan Bader has improved his striking a lot over the last few years, but he still doesn’t stand a chance if this fight stays standing. Bader’s key to victory is simple. He needs to take Johnson down and grind him out. He needs to do exactly what Daniel Cormier did to him. This means that he’s going to have to enter Johnson’s striking range and work for takedowns, even if it means putting himself in extreme danger of being knocked out. Bader is going to have to take a lot of risks to get this fight to the ground and that’s where this fight becomes really interesting…
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We’ve seen throughout Bader’s career that he doesn’t like to put himself in danger or take too many risks. Instead, he likes to stay on the outside and pick his moment to shoot in on his opponent. If Bader shoots for a takedown and his opponent puts up any kind of resistance, he’ll normally completely abandon the takedown attempt unless he’s been able to secure something worth fighting for like a full body lock or a deep position on his opponent’s hips. This style of wrestling can be very effective against guys like Ovince St-Preux, because disengaging and getting out of harms way means that you can live to fight another day. If you’re confident that eventually you will be able to get someone to the ground, there’s nothing wrong with abandoning takedown attempts and looking for easier opportunities later on in a fight.
This strategy only becomes flawed when you fight guys like Anthony Johnson, who have excellent takedown defence, because at some point you’re going to have to put yourself in danger and commit to a takedown if you want to get your opponent to the ground.
Many people believe that Bader will be able to grind on Johnson and tire him out. You have to remember that Johnson barely even broke a sweat in his fight against Phil Davis and he probably could have fought at that pace for another 10 rounds. In order to get Johnson tired, you need to take control of the fight and make him work at a pace that he’s not comfortable with. If you let Johnson control the pace of the fight, he can also control his cardio and output and this is where he becomes extremely dangerous.
If you go back and watch Anthony Johnson’s fights against Phil Davis and Daniel Cormier, you’ll see Johnson demonstrating elite takedown defence against two very strong wrestlers. So why was Cormier able to use his wrestling to beat him, when Davis’ style of wrestling was completely ineffective?
The answer lies in persistence…
Cormier persisted to try and take Johnson down, even after he had been badly hurt and rocked several times. In contrast, Phil Davis retreated every time Johnson stuffed his takedown attempts. If Johnson stuffed Cormier’s takedown attempt, Cormier would keep coming forward, keep pressuring him and keep trying to grind on Johnson and eventually it paid off when Johnson started to get tired. This then opened up opportunities for Cormier to get the fight to the ground. This fighting dynamic was drastically different to what happened in the Phil Davis fight, because Phil didn’t persist with his takedown attempts and pressure. Every time Johnson stuffed one of his takedowns, both guys reset and the fight continued with Johnson controlling the pace. These are important details to consider, because Ryan Bader fights a lot more like Phil Davis than Daniel Cormier. Like I said earlier in the prediction, Bader likes to stay on the outside and pick his shots and we’ve seen in the past that this style of wrestling is not effective against Anthony Johnson.
The only fighter that was able to use his wrestling to beat Johnson in the last few years was Daniel Cormier. Daniel Cormier has Olympic level wrestling, cardio for days and a relentless, grinding style that is aided by one of the best chins in the Light Heavyweight division. Ryan Bader is not on Daniel Cormier’s level as a striker, as a wrestler or as a fighter and he’s going to find it very difficult to impose himself on Johnson like Cormier did.
In order to take Anthony Johnson down, you need to enter his range and Johnson punishes people for entering his range better than anybody else in MMA. If you don’t complete a takedown and secure a dominant position against Johnson quickly, he’ll fire back with fight ending strikes.
Ryan Bader has shown throughout his career that he goes into a defensive shell if he cannot take an opponent down and I believe that this is exactly what’s going to happen in this fight. Bader also has a big weakness in his game that plays right into one of Johnson’s most dangerous weapons…
When Bader exits an exchange or takedown attempt, he moves out of his opponent’s range with his chin up high. This leaves him wide open to getting knocked out. If his opponent lands on him or applies pressure, he also tends to forget to circle out of danger and gets trapped with his back against the cage. This is another major weakness in his skillset that leaves him wide open to getting knocked out. Johnson does a great job of throwing hooks that come over the shoulders of his opponent’s, so that they don’t see them coming. These hooks land with knockout power and Bader will be very susceptible to these kinds of strikes when he leaves exchanges with his chin up high and when he gets pressured and trapped with his back against the cage. This small weakness in Bader’s fighting style will leave him very vulnerable to getting knocked out and it’s going to be difficult to correct because it appears to be an instinctive behaviour.
Anthony Johnson’s cardio is one of his biggest weaknesses, but Bader doesn’t apply enough pressure or work his opponent’s hard enough to test it. For that reason, I believe that Johnson is a good bet in this fight. I believe that Johnson will be able to use his strong wrestling in reverse to keep this fight standing. From there, he should be able to take the centre of the Octagon and apply constant pressure to Bader. I believe Johnson will win this fight by KO or TKO in the first couple of rounds or win a dominant decision if Bader chooses to stay on the outside and fight defensively. Either way. I expect Johnson to win this fight easily.
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MY BETTING TIP: 5 Units [5% of your bankroll] on Anthony Johnson to win at odds of 1.25 | -400 | 1/4