Top ranked light heavyweight Ryan Bader’s days as a UFC fighter appear to be over with a multi-fight deal for Bellator.
Back in 2008, coming off the 8th season of the Ultimate Fighter, Ryan Bader made his UFC debut. Just a year and a half into his pro career, he beat Vinny Magalhaes to become crowned TUF champion and take home his ten-fight, six-figure contract. Ten fights eventually turned into twenty, and when all was said and done, Bader had secured his place as a top 5 light heavyweight, along with a 15-5 UFC record. Given the state of the division and pair of TKO wins, he may have even been closing in on a title shot.
And now he’s gone. Well, not gone gone, just gone to Bellator. After nearly a decade of fighting under the UFC banner, Bader was unable to come to a deal on a new contract with the promotion. As such, they’ve let him go his own way and now MMAJunkie reports that way has led to the Spike TV promotion.
“We knew he was going to go to Bellator the entire time,” UFC president Dana White told USA Today back in February. “I think Bellator is a good place for Ryan Bader.” And it seems that message has been received.
No debut date has been announced for Bader as of yet, however Junkie reports that “Darth” has signed a multi-fight deal. Bader is the latest UFC fighter to exit the promotion for greener pastures, following Lorenz Larkin, Kyoji Horiguchi, Nikita Krylov, and Michael McDonald already in 2017. He’ll join Phil Davis, Rampage Jackson, Francis Carmont, Alessio Sakara, Chael Sonnen, and Wanderlei Silva as former UFC talents currently in Bellator’s light heavyweight division.