Heading into his next tilt against Anthony Perosh this weekend at Fight Night 33, Ryan Bader has his mind set on getting back into the upper-tier of the UFC light heavyweight division.
The Ultimate Fighter season eight winner has been on somewhat of a roller coaster since he suffered the first loss of his professional career to future champion Jon Jones at UFC 126 in 2011. In the aftermath of the setback, the former Arizona State University wrestling standout has experienced mixed results as he's attempted to regain his footing in the competitive ranks of the 205-pound fold.
The 30-year-old has stepped into the Octagon on six occasions since his fight with "Bones" and found victory in three of those showings. While his efforts haven't produced the results he had been working toward, that hasn't stopped the Power MMA leader from sticking to the task at hand. He has his mind set on becoming a title contender in the light heavyweight division and his bout against Perosh on Friday night will present an opportunity for him to take the first step back toward title contention.
While the chaotic world of competing on the sport's biggest stage can be an all encompassing situation and requires his mind to be completely focused, the father of two has continued to progress in his efforts to support the United States military.
In the lead up to his bout in Brisbane, Bader has donated $10,000 to the Naval Special Warfare Family Foundation (NSW) which offers support Navy SEALs and their families. In addition to the fighter's contribution, his sponsor InCapital has matched his offering and has brought the total sum of the contribution to $20,000.
Where this will be the first time Bader has worked with NSW, he has a strong history of supporting the U.S. military. The light heavyweight has worked hand in hand with the Wounded Warriors Project, as he's donated funds to the program that provides services to soldiers who are severely injured in battle.
In Bader's eyes, the men and women fighting for his country allow him to live his dream, and this show of support is only the beginning of what he intends to be a long-term endeavor.
"I have so much love and respect for the people who serve in the United States military," Bader told Bleacher Report. "They are out there putting their lives on the line for us and if there is any way I can help, it's something I'm going to do. When I heard about the great work the NSW Family Foundation was doing to support SEALS and their families, I knew I wanted to be involved in that. I'm happy to make this contribution and there is so much I look forward to doing in the year ahead with the NSW and the Armed Forces Foundation. The Navy SEALs are the baddest warriors on the planet and it's an incredible feeling to be working with them.
"Having the support from John Radtke and InCapital, and them matching my contribution for this effort really shows how much they are committed to making a difference as well. It's great to be working with an organization that really wants to make a difference. I'm very thankful to be in the position I'm in and to be working with the people I'm working with."
With Bader's continued efforts in the field of supporting the military and programs which offer assistance to service men and women and their families, his sponsor became motivated to get involved in the effort. CEO John Radtke offered his thoughts on Bader's commitment and why his company decided to get involved.
"Ryan's efforts to support those who have served our country inspired us all," Radtke said. "Our company is very proud to share Ryan's commitment and enthusiasm for supporting great organizations like the NSW Family Foundation and giving something back."
With Bader expressing interest in making a larger effort in the coming year, it appears he will remain heavily involved in his support efforts. That said, his career path will come front and center on Friday night when he squares off with Perosh. The scrappy Aussie is as game as they come and has won four of his last five showings. Bader is looking forward to the scrap and believes the efforts he supports outside of the cage go hand in hand with what he's trying to accomplish inside the Octagon.
"Perosh is a tough fighter and I'm really looking forward to mixing it up with him," Bader said. "I've worked hard to prepare for this fight and I'm expecting the best results on fight night. Getting ready for this fight, or any fight at the highest level of MMA, requires absolute focus and a full commitment. Those men and women who serve our country give their all to keep us safe and working with them as I continue my career is absolutely motivating. They inspire me to be better and I'm honored to help them in any way I can because they help me everyday."
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.