One loss to an elite fighter such as Jon Jones wasn't going to send Ryan Bader into panic mode and force him to reassess everything that led to a 12-0 start in his pro mixed martial arts career.
That only happened after he followed with another loss to Tito Ortiz.
"You definitely learn a lot (from losses). You've got to take them and do something good with those, and after you lose your first fight, it's not necessarily something where you freak out and need to change everything," the Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight contender said. "But losing two in a row, I had to go back to the drawing board and look at what I was doing. We definitely made some changes as a team."
The 28-year-old Reno native had been on the verge of a title shot when he ran into Jones, now the champion, at UFC 126 in February 2011 and was submitted in the second round. The real sign of trouble came just a few months later in July, when he lost as a minus-500 favorite to a well-past-his-prime Ortiz.
That loss had many critics ready to write off the once-promising career of the former two-time Nevada state high school wrestling champion.
Bader knew it was time to make some changes. A new head coach and a new boxing coach helped bring stability to his camp. He said he was able to delegate all planning of his training and make it his sole responsibility to show up and do what his coaches say, thereby reinvigorating his drive.
Bader will get another chance to reach the upper tier in the loaded light heavyweight division when he fights former champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 144 in Saitama, Japan, on Sunday.
"It's a big fight," Bader said.
He earned the opportunity with a 77-second knockout of Jason Brilz in November to get back in the win column.
"I felt great going into my last fight. I went out there aggressive. Some people feel that they have to fight not to lose (in that situation), but that gets in the way from what got them there," he said. "Those changes I made, I definitely feel like I'm a different fighter."
Bader will put those changes to the test against Jackson on a card that will take place on Sunday in Japan in order to air live in the normal 7 p.m. PST time slot on Saturday.
The broadcast will be extended to four hours and include seven fights on the main card, headlined by a lightweight title bout between Benson Henderson and champion Frankie Edgar.
■ FIVE-ROUND MAIN EVENTS -- All UFC main events will be scheduled for five rounds in the future, UFC president Dana White announced in the aftermath of a thrilling three-round main event decision victory by Jake Ellenberger over Diego Sanchez on Wednesday at UFC on Fuel 1.
Until last year, only title fights were scheduled for five rounds. The UFC added the two extra rounds for all main event fights on pay-per-view cards and Fox network broadcasts, but FX and Fuel TV televised events were excluded.
White said he "blew it" by not having the Ellenberger-Sanchez fight scheduled for the extra rounds and listed himself among the many who would have liked to see 10 extra minutes of action.
■ SUPERIOR CAGE COMBAT -- Jay Silva choked out Kendall Grove in the second round of a matchup of UFC veteran middleweights in the main event of Superior Cage Combat 4 at The Orleans on Thursday.
Grove had won back-to-back fights since his UFC release, but went unconscious on an arm-triangle choke applied by Silva.
Also on the card, John Gunderson submitted Justin Buchholz in the third round to win the new SCC lightweight title, in another matchup of UFC veterans .
Las Vegan Jimmy Jones picked up a victory on the card, and "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 11 alum Jamie Yager won his fourth straight fight since his UFC release with a decision over Las Vegan Danny Davis Jr. in a welterweight bout.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.