BANGOR — Ryan Bader knows being a headliner on a UFC card comes with added responsibility, especially in what he calls Dana White’s “hometown.”

White, the UFC President, made it a personal mission to bring the world’s largest mixed martial arts show to Maine for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night. White graduated from Hermon High and homes a home in Levant.

Bader will face former University of Tennessee football player Ovince Saint Preux in the main event.

“We’re coming here, Dana’s hometown,” Bader said, adding later: “There’s a little more pressure being the main event.”

Bader can laugh about that type of pressure. What he’s more concerned about is improving his No. 8 light heavyweight ranking and 18-4 overall record (10-4 in the UFC) against the up-and-coming No. 10 ranked Saint Preux (16-5, 4-0).

“I don’t look too much at those rankings but they’re there for a reason,” Bader said. “I’m (number) eight, he’s 10. I want to be at the top of the division so I’m not going to be there if I don’t beat (Saint Preux). I have to beat guys like that to move up to the top three, top five and fight those type of guys.”

“My goal is to be a champion. The guy in front of me right now, OSP, I have to beat him if I want to get there,” Bader added.

Saint Preux has won his first four UFC fights and presents a challenge in part because of his six-inch reach advantage. The only active light heavyweight with a longer UFC winning streak is champion Jon Jones.

Bader is on a two-fight win streak and has been in with some of the UFC’s best, including a 2011 loss to current light heavyweight champion Jones.

“He’s like a legend within the UFC, everyone knows who Ryan Bader is,” Saint Preux said. “But in order to become a legend you have to beat a legend. I have to beat him.”

Saint Preux said he figures a win would also put him in the top five – and send a message to future opponents.

“Within this 205 weight class I’m going to be that chill factor crawling up your back,” Saint Preux added.

White agrees.

“If he beats Bader, now he’s looking at guys (in the top five) and a win over one of those guys and now he’s in contention for a title fight,” White said.

Bader vs. Saint Preux has two interesting story lines based on statistics. Bader is the division’s top-rated fighter in terms of takedowns per 15 minutes (3.53) but Saint Preux has never been taken down in his four UFC fights. When it comes to striking (punches and kicks), the roles are reversed. Saint Preux connects on 55.4 percent of his significant strikes (the UFC average is 42 percent) but Bader has the best defense against significant strikes in UFC light heavyweight history.

NOTES: As of Thursday afternoon, tickets were still available for Saturday’s fight. The UFC would not say how many tickets remain unsold, though Director of Public Relations Chris Costello did confirm the Cross Center has been configured to for a capacity of 6,000. Cross Center General Manager Joe Imbriaco declined to comment, saying ticket sales and venue configuration were under the UFC’s domain. … Today at 4 p.m., the weigh-ins for the 10 scheduled fights will be held at the Cross Center. Weigh-ins are free and open to the public. … UFC crews had to wait until after Thursday night’s Disney on Ice show to begin setting up the arena for Saturday’s show. … Particularly impressive in Thursday’s open workout session was English middleweight Ross Pearson, who is taking on Gray Maynard. Pearson repeatedly ripped thudding kicks into the protective padding worn by his trainer Dean Amasinger. Pearson said he and Amasinger travelled alone from England in hopes of rebounding from a controversial split-decision loss to Deigo Sanchez on June 7. “I prefer it that way,” Pearson said. “It’s a business trip. I like to be able to focus on business.” … Lincolnville’s Tim Boetsch knows he needs to beat Brad Tavares to stay on the UFC’s list of roughly 500 fighters under contract. But Boetsch said he can’t spend time thinking about his post-fight future.”Your subconscious mind is a powerful thing so you have to be careful what thoughts you put in there,” Boetsch said. “I’m just thinking about going in there and finishing this guy. That’s the first thought I have in the morning and the last thought I have before I go to bed.”

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