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Saturday, February 26, 2011
Bader's dream bout would be against Ortiz


SYDNEY -- Following the first loss of his professional career at UFC 126, light heavyweight Ryan Bader isn't necessarily looking to rush back into the Octagon.

That said, he's not past taking a look at his division and pondering what his next step will be.

Bader (12-1) is in Australia until the end of the week on a public relations run for the UFC. Shortly after he returns, he says he'll likely contact the organization to request a return date.

There are a few light heavyweights currently without a fight scheduled that interest Bader, including Rich Franklin and Stephan Bonnar.

One name in particular interests him most.

"I would want to fight Tito Ortiz," Bader told ESPN.com. "Just because I grew up watching him. I want to have one of those guys on my résumé like a Randy Couture or Chuck Liddell. Purely out of respect, he's one I'd like to fight before my career is over."

Ortiz had been scheduled to fight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC Fight Night 24 on March 26 in Seattle, but he had to pull out after an accidental head-butt in training required 22 stitches. The injury is not expected to keep sidelined long.

Regardless of when Bader fights next, he says he'll look completely different than he did in his last fight, a second-round submission loss to Jon Jones on Feb. 12. Jones was fairly dominant in that fight, both on his feet and the ground.

Bader gives Jones credit for the win and likes his chances to claim the light heavyweight title over Mauricio Rua at UFC 128 in March -- but he also says there was something else going on that night.

For whatever reason, Bader says he couldn't get into the fight like he wanted and felt flat from the moment it started.

"Really, I didn't even feel like going back and watching it because I didn't feel like I fought to even a quarter of my potential. Right before I walked out, I was standing there and telling myself, Man, you really need to wake up."

Bader isn't sure if it was the magnitude of the fight, nerves or just a bad night that caused him to fight flat. Throughout his entire athletic career, he can't remember feeling that way before a competition.

Eventually, he gave up on trying to figure out why it happened and turned his focus to doing everything he can to prevent it from happening again.

"It sucks because winning is everything to me," Bader said. "To go through a tough training camp like I did and then feel like I didn't fight to my true potential was just horrible. But it's just my first loss and I'm not going to go backward from it. I'm going to go forward."