The Ultimate Fighter 8 Light Heavyweight Tournament winner Ryan Bader became a free agent following his last fight, a knockout win over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in November 2016. He recently inked a deal with Bellator MMA, but it wasn’t a surprise to anyone.
“We had told Ryan Bader he was good to go. We knew he was going to go to Bellator the entire time. I think Bellator is a good place for Ryan Bader. At this point in his career, I think it’s the right move for him,” said UFC president Dana White in February.
Bader announced the move to Bellator on March 21 during an appearance on The MMA Hour, and wants to get an immediate title shot in his promotional debut. Fellow former UFC fighter Phil Davis holds the Bellator light heavyweight title, and Bader holds a win over him from a 2015 fight.
“I was pushing for a title shot in the UFC. I wanted a title shot. I wanted to win that belt. We’re with Bellator now, so that mindset is still the same. I’m looking to go in there, I’m looking to fight for the title and win that title and keep it for as long as I can,” he said.
An immediate title shot was discussed during Bader’s negotiations with the fight promotion. Both sides liked the idea, but nothing was set in stone. “It was part of the negotiations. It’s not 100-percent a done deal, but we were talking about it,” he said. “It makes sense.
“I’m his last loss. He comes over; he’s been looking great. He wins the Bellator belt, so it makes sense for me to go in there and fight for it. I don’t think too many people can bitch about me coming and getting an immediate title shot.”
Bader is happy with the decision to join the Bellator roster. He stated that he’d make a bigger payday in Bellator than he would in the UFC. He also believes he’ll be given better opportunities.
“I’m excited. It’s kind of refreshing,” he said. “I’m ready to step in there. I want a title shot right away, and I think I deserve it.”