Ryan Bader is a former All American wrestler. He’s spent years training to put men down on their backs and keep them there. Eric “Red” Schafer is a Jiu Jitsu wizard, happier on the ground than anyplace else. He wants to be on the mat, looking for submissions and sweeps. Yet, when the two meet in the Octagon this Saturday at UFC 104, absolutely no one thinks it’s going to be a grappling contest.
I am ready to strike with him if need be,” Schafer said. “I am still not a great striker, but I feel more than comfortable trading with Bader.”
It’s become a pattern in UFC fights between high level wrestlers and top notch Jiu Jitsu players. Instead of doing what they do best, the wrestlers are afraid of all the bad things that can happen in, what Joe Rogan would call, Jiu Jitsu’s world. Bader feels safer pitting his developing striking game against Schafer’s rudimentary one. And that’s what has led Schafer to kickboxing legend Duke Roufus.
“I train at one of the best gyms in the country, Duke Roufus Academy. Duke is one of the best striking coaches in the country, plus he has hired some other great coaches like Scott Cushman, Aaron Bridges, Jason Kazmierczak, Omar Choudhury and Rob Smith,” Schafer said. “Great striking, BJJ, and wrestling. We have many WEC and UFC guys come in through the gym when they are getting ready for fights. The training here is top notch. We have 4 guys training for UFC 104 here, so I consider us right up there with (the top) gyms.”
Schafer has an elite training camp available at the Duke Roufus Academy. Prior to UFC 104, Ben Rothwell, Pat Barry, and Razak Al-Hussan were all there getting ready for their UFC 104 fights. But Schafer said he likes to “visit other gyms to expand my game. I believe you should be very open to training with other guys and gyms when possible.”
Schafer will need all the skills he can muster up to continue on with the UFC. This is his second run in the MMA major leagues. The first time he lost consecutive fights to Stephan Bonnar and Michael Bisping. According to Schafer, that was not the same fighter that has won two in a row in the Octagon and plans to take it to Bader.
” I fought those guys at a certain stage of my career, and I feel I have evolved since then,” Schafer said. He doesn’t feel compelled to prove anything to his conquerors. “They have probably gotten better too, but the fights would probably be much different now (win or lose). I actually want to revenge some of my grappling losses much more than my fight losses.”
After the fight this weekend, it’s likely Milwaukee-area MMA fans will be able to find Schafer helping teammates train for upcoming fights, along with at local BJJ tournaments, in which Schafer often times serves as referee. Schafer will also continue to evolve further – using a strong BJJ and ground game – while also picking up new skills from Roufus and the rest of his teammates.
Fans will also have an opportunity to train with Schafer, if only in the virtual world. He’s working with CONCEDE to bring some of his Jiu Jitsu techniques to the world wide web.
“CONCEDE has some cool ideas with their website. I have been asked to teach some ground technique for MMA,” Schafer said. “We have already filmed some great introductory techniques, but we hope that the users will provide feedback and questions, so I can expand on the current moves to help them. They just need to email me on the CONCEDE site and ask away. The “interactive” instructions will be very cool!”