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Mason Fowler came to the forefront of everyone’s minds at Submission Underground 16 when he defeated Craig Jones in overtime. While it was controversial, it was the biggest boost to Fowler’s young career. He then rattled off another, less controversial, win the next card at SUG 17, beating Craig Jones again. That’s where we first talked with Fowler. since then, he’s notched two other fantastic wins over Vinny Magalhaes and Satoshi Ishii. Now, at Submission Underground 20, Fowler takes on the two weight Bellator champion, Ryan Bader.
Check out our last interview with Mason Fowler below.
Mason Fowler | Submission Underground 20
The shot at a name like Ryan Bader, who has won belts in Bellator and been a UFC contender, is a huge boost to the profile of Mason Fowler. While Jiu Jitsu has a cult following and some of the most dedicated fans in the world, it is nothing compared to the profile mixed martial arts has. A crossover for Fowler gives him extra exposure and helps him with future endorsements and such as his career goes forward. Fowler isn’t taking that for granted either. He knows how he’s fortunate to be put in this situation.
“It’s been amazing. I feel so blessed and so lucky to be in the position I’m in. Not a lot of Jiu Jitsu guys get the opportunity to cross over and get matches with famous MMA guys. That’s really big for me. I’ve always been a fan of MMA and I think I’m in a really good position that I’m going to get a lot of extra exposure from that other world.”
Booking the match with Ryan Bader hasn’t been straightforward. After the two had their respective matches on SUG 19, the idea was thrown around. Mason Fowler wanted the match but it didn’t seem to materialize at first and the paths diverged. But at the last minute, Chael Sonnen pulled some strings and got Fowler the Bader match.
“I had talked to a couple of the people from Submission Underground after the event because he looked really good in his match. The name got thrown out a little bit there and of course for me that would be amazing. I actually met Bader and hung out with him a little bit at the event too. He’s just the coolest guy and I’ve been a fan of his for a while. When his name got thrown around, I got really excited and they hit me up and asked me to do another event in 7 or 8 days. Of course I didn’t want to pass up on the opportunity. It was going to be another Jiu Jitsu guy and I accepted him. The next day they actually hit me up and said, ‘Hey Chael actually made the Bader match happen. Do you want that?’ I was like man, of course. That’s amazing.”
Being a fan of Ryan Bader isn’t a problem for Fowler. While he does enjoy watching Bader fight, Mason Fowler says when it’s time to roll, there are is no fan in him. Fowler says he’s been in this position before with John Fitch sparring and even Craig Jones in 2019. Now, it’s just another day at the office and he is down to try and solve the equation.
“When I was doing MMA, for example, I remember the first time I sparred with John Fitch and it was kind of a surreal thing. That’s someone I was watching when I was 15-16 years old. Years later, I’m actually training with the guy. I’ve had experiences like that before. Even with Craig [Jones] when we had the match at ADCC, he was already really well known. He was the number one seed in the bracket. I remember we shook hands and I didn’t even really take it in that I’m competing against someone that’s really well known in the world. I just get the tunnel vision that it’s me against this other person. Weather it’s in training or in competition, I don’t ever really look at the guy’s face. I’m always looking at their body as a whole and it’s a puzzle I’m trying to solve instead of, ‘I’m trying to beat this famous person.’ It’s just trying to solve this puzzle instead.”
The Wrestling Aspect of Ryan Bader
Of course, we all know the experience in wrestling that Ryan Bader has. At Arizona State, Bader won three Pac-10 Championships and is a two time All-American. In his sophomore year, he placed fourth in the NCAA’s and his senior year he placed seventh. Fowler says his experience in wrestling may not be what Bader has, but he’s no slouch in the wrestling department.
“I have decent wrestling as well. I didn’t wrestle collegiately like Bader did. But I have decent wrestling. I’ve trained with a lot of wrestlers over the years. At my old gym in Fresno where I used to do MMA at, we had wrestlers like Koschek there, a guy named Chris Honeycutt, Ed Ruth there who is a World Team member and three time Division I champ, we have my good friend Deron Winn there who weighs about the same as Bader. He was a National Team member at the same weight as Bader. I continue to train with a lot of high level wrestlers. I have a lot of really good training partners for Bader’s style. I’m just going to go out there and do my thing. I know what works and doesn’t work against big strong wrestlers.”
Despite thinking he will have the advantage at Submission Underground 20, Mason Fowler knows what he’s getting into when it comes to facing off with a wrestler. Headstrong as can be, he knows his opponent is going to be game at all points of the match and bring it for the entire time they’re in the cage together
“One thing I know is that he’s not going to break. He’s not going to completely gas out. Everyone gets tired but wrestlers have that extra gear where they don’t just gas out and give up. They keep fighting the whole time. I think that’s going to be the challenge. We’re going to bring each other into deep water and he’s not going to break. That’s going to be the biggest challenge with Bader: his athleticism and his conditioning.”
Tied to Craig Jones
Fowler’s been around for years but his legacy was started with his first loss to Craig Jones at ADCC in 2019. Then his two wins in Submission Underground shot him into the stratosphere. Perhaps Fowler and Jones will now have a Batman and Joker relationship. With one or the other winning but never really getting rid of each other completely. With Craig Jones winning winning at Who’s #1 and SUG 19, he’s looked impressive and we could get a matchup between Fowler and Jones for a third time in the SUG ring.
“Yes, for sure. But he’s been looking good at Submission Underground. His last match against Brent Primus, he was attacking the whole time. Brent was skating out of submissions left and right and Craig was able to catch him. I think Craig wants another match with me at Submission Underground. It just depends on what Chael and Submission Underground wants to do. If they tell me, ‘Hey, we’re going to do another match with Craig,’ and that’s what they want to do, then I’m not in a position to pick and choose guys. When you’re the champion of an organization, you’re supposed to fight whoever they put in front of you. That’s up to Chael and Submission Underground. If Chael tells me they want to do the match, I’m not going to say, ‘Oh no, I already did two of them.’ Let’s do it again.”
While Fowler knows that the matchup might be inevitable, he’s not gung ho about it. He’s already beat Jones and outside of ADCC, he doesn’t feel like beating Jones again would add much to his name outside of an ADCC win. That said, he knows he can still lose to Jones and isn’t going to turn the match down if presented to him.
“I personally would like to get more names under my belt. Being able to tell somebody that I got two wins over Crag or I got three wins over Craig, it doesn’t really make that much of a difference. That said, Craig is dangerous. Every time you compete against him, you have to be on your toes. It would still be a challenge either way.”
Mason Fowler takes on Ryan Bader on December 30th at Submission Underground 20. Be sure to follow Mason Fowler on Instagram to follow his Jiu Jitsu journey.