Ryan Bader signs with Bellator MMA

Monday, March 20, 2017

In November the #4 ranked UFC light heavyweight Ryan Bader said he was going to test “taboo” free agency. He let his contract run out and entered negotiations with Bellator.

“I haven’t received a title shot yet with the UFC, and I believe that’s something I’ve earned,” said Bander. “That and a few other things made me realize fighting out my contract was the best move and that’s what I did.”

A contract was offered by Bellator and early in February, UFC president Dana White was asked by USA Today’s Trysta Krick if he was going to match it.

“No,” replied White. “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. I think at this point in his career, I think it’s the right move for him.”

It apparently took another month to iron out the final details, and now it’s official. The obvious question is who is next. And there is an obvious answer.

Bader beat current Bellator champion Phil Davis via Split Decision in January of 2015 at UFC on FOX 14. Davis then left the UFC, won a four-man, one-night tournament to get a title shot at then-champion Liam McGeary and dominated in the title challenge.

When UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson came over to Bellator from the UFC, he granted an immediate title shot. Bader could too.

“I got into this game to become a champion and winning the title in Bellator or the UFC would be a dream come true,” said Bader earlier this year. His dream could come true.