Ryan Bader believes winning a Bellator title will solidify his status as a top 205-pound fighter.
After going 15-5 in the UFC, Ryan Bader decided to jump ship and leave the company he has fought with since 2008. Early this week, it was confirmed that the TUF 8 winner signed a multi-fight deal with Bellator.
The UFC has been criticized a lot lately for its matchmaking, particularly when it comes to granting fighters title shots. And for Bader, moving to Bellator was the only logical step to make at this stage of his career.
“I felt like I had nothing really to prove, so what I wanted was opportunities. For me, it wasn’t just about straight money,” Bader told ESPN.com. “It was about, ‘What’s the plan for me?’ When I met with [Bellator president] Scott Coker, he laid out a plan of where they are going and he laid out a plan for me. That was cool to see.”
“If you look at the atmosphere right now of where the UFC is going, who’s getting title shots, it’s a little different. They’ve looked past me in booking title fights before. I wasn’t too surprised they didn’t match Bellator’s offer or make a good offer to keep me. I wasn’t expecting too much.”
Even as a top-five contender at light heavyweight, Bader never had his chance to fight for the title. Now that he is with Bellator, he hopes to finally bag MMA gold, which he believes would be a representation of his entire career.
“There will always be something down there that says, ‘All right, you won the Bellator title but you never won the UFC title.’ I’ve thought about that,” Bader said. “I’ve never had the opportunity, and yes, a lot of it is my fault … but I never got that opportunity. I can only work with the opportunity that is given to me. When I win that [Bellator] belt, it will validate a lot of my hard work.”
“I fought around local shows [early in my career], jumped around. I never got to fight in one organization to win the belt. I won The Ultimate Fighter and jumped into the UFC on my fifth fight or whatnot.
“I want to have a belt somewhere. I’m working with what I’m given. These opportunities, I’ll be extremely happy and it will validate the years I’ve spent in the sport, wrestling, going back to seven years old.”
Bader is expected to make his Bellator debut on promotion’s June 15th PPV show.