UFC 119 undoubtedly marks a turning point for Ultimate Fighter Season 8 winner Ryan Bader.

After slowly working his way up the 205lb ladder with four straight wins he now steps into the upper reaches of the division against a highly respected opponent in the shape of Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in the c0-main event.

“It’s a huge step up in competition,” Bader acknowledges in his pre-fight interview for UFC.com.  “You know – top 5, top 10 guy, but that’s where I want to be.  Your not going to progress not fighting those type of guys.”

The Nogueira brothers reputation in the sport proceeds them as Bader is only to willing to acknowledge.

“I have huge amounts of respect for him and his brother, what they’ve done for this sport and what they’ve done in this sport, and yeah, it’s just a huge opportunity for me, and why would I turn that down?”

Defeating Lil Nog would certainly be the biggest achievement of his career to date, but Bader is keeping his mind firmly focused on the daunting challenge in front of him on September 25th.

I’m not taking anything lightly judging by his last fight at all.  I just have to create scrambles and definitely use my power, and land some shots and keep mixing stuff up.”

Respect can only go so far in this sport though, and Bader is experienced enough at this stage in his career to realize that once the cage door shuts you have to fight the man, not the myth.

“Accolades, everything goes out the window.  It’s just you versus your opponent.  I want to be the best.  My ultimate goal is to the be the champ and I have to go through these guys to do that.”