BANGOR – His name is Ryan “Darth” Bader but during a media session earlier this week, there was nothing menacing about him. Never mind that late Saturday night his only purpose is to make Ovince Saint Preux submit in the main event of the Ultimate Fighting Championship card at the Cross Insurance Center.

How? That’s what the expected crowd of 6,000 will come to watch.

Bader’s smile and calm demeanor didn’t totally mask his excitement. This is the first appearance of UFC’s fighters in Maine. Bader said first-time fans will be astonished at the energy in the building.

Energy? That’s a code word for the testosterone-fueled mayhem that will spill out of the octagon cage. Energy is a sterile word, an abstract thought.

Saturday night will be an attack on the senses. That’s what sells tickets in today’s world. Boxing is called the sweet science. Mixed martial arts, or cage fighting, is a plunge into the depths of in-your-face violence.

How do you make someone submit in the cage? By using almost any physical means necessary. Yes, there are rules to protect. This isn’t a death match even if it is barbaric. Tim Boetsch, the 33-year-old fighter who grew up in pastoral Lincolnville on the Maine coast, calls himself The Barbarian. You don’t need to use your imagination.

And that’s the attraction.

But here was Bader, speaking casually after a brief workout Thursday in a hotel ballroom. The public was invited to watch and about three dozen people came, eager to meet him and several other fighters.

Bader might have been your dentist or your children’s teacher. He is 31, married with one child and another on the way. He attended Arizona State for four years and was a three-time Pac-10 wrestling champion. Twice he was an NCAA All-American, including his senior year in 2006.

His opponent grew up in Florida, the son of Haitian immigrants. Saint Preux graduated from Tennessee with a degree in sociology. He played defensive end and linebacker for the Volunteers, and when no team offered him a contract to play in the NFL he decided his athleticism could be put to use fighting.

I looked for the on-off switch on the back of their necks. Britain’s Ross Pearson and Gray Maynard, from Santa Cruz, California, all spoke easily with the media after their workouts, then walked over to the fans in attendance. They signed autographs and posed for cellphone selfies. So did Boetsch. They were almost too polite and so non-threatening you asked yourself what’s wrong with this picture.

I stumbled on the name of Amanda Lucas, a mixed martial arts fighter who is not in Bangor. In fact, she last fought in 2012 although there has been no news of a retirement. She lost her first fight and won her next five. She’s the daughter of George Lucas of “Star Wars” fame. She’s had small parts in three Star Wars movies. No, she’s not married to Darth Bader.

Mike Brown, a Maine native and former Bonny Eagle High wrestler, won a national mixed martial arts championship. He’s a Norwich University graduate. A biology major who once thought about pre-med.

The point? They’re our neighbors in life who knowingly and with some forethought tapped into a very primal part of their souls. You may deny that exists in your makeup. They don’t. You question your ability to survive your worst nightmare and they test themselves by doing.

The 1985 movie “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” starring Mel Gibson and Tina Turner captured that. Disagreements or a certain frontier justice were resolved in the huge cage: Thunderdome. In this post-apocalyptic movie spectators chanted: Two men enter, one man leaves. It was one of film critic Roger Ebert’s favorite scenes for its originality.

Eight years later UFC was launched. It claims mixed martial arts is the fastest-growing sport in the world and is the equivalent of the NFL in its status among fighters and fans. True? Time will tell.

You may turn away from the brutality in the cage. The fighters don’t ignore the physical beatings. Boetsch isn’t overly concerned about concussions. “I might take three strikes to the head in a bout. There are mandatory MRIs. I’m in an extended study. Every year my brain gets tested.”

He grins. He’s probably been told too many times he needs his head examined for making this his livelihood.

The UFC says it tests for performance-enhancing drugs and other banned substances. Its biggest image problem is what happens in the octagon. It doesn’t wants the sideshows of steroid rages or drug abuses.

Dana White is the UFC president. Czar might be a better title. His thumbprint is on everything. It’s too bad the very fractured world of boxing doesn’t have its own White. Boxing has a product that is withering because of its lack of leadership at the highest levels.

Maybe mixed martial arts will become the roller derby of 50 years ago, when dozens of cities boasted teams, millions watched and there was a television contract. Roller derby turned to scripted outcomes and its popularity dropped dramatically soon after.

Mixed martial arts isn’t going away soon. The world is full of indecision and here is an absolute. Someone wins, someone loses in video-game speed.

The difference is that Saturday night will be very real.