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Ryan Bader: Winning Bellator MMA title validates all of my hard work

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Ryan Bader recently became the latest Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter to jump ship to Bellator MMA, inking a longterm contract with the Viacom-owned company earlier this week (details).

For “Darth,” it wasn’t simply about getting more coin in his bank account, but getting opportunities he never received inside the Octagon. And after getting passed over for a title shot in the past, Bader says there wasn’t much left to prove with UFC.

“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.”

The UFC matchmaking process has recently irked quite a few stars, especially with the way title fights have been distributed. For Bader, who didn’t get a title fight after a five-fight win streak, going to Bellator MMA seemed like the logical step.

Plus, it’s not like WME-IMG-owned fight company was in too much of a hurry to re-sign him.

“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.”

While many will be quick to say Bellator MMA is the “B” level title when compared to UFC, Ryan says winning the strap under his new fight banner will be all the validation he needs.

“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.”

Currently, Phil Davis is the promotion’s 205-pound champion and “Darth” has a win over “Mr. Wonderful,” defeating him under the UFC umbrella back in 2015. While there’s no telling if Ryan’s first fight will be for the strap, Bader is happy with his decision.

“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,” he concluded.

Source:: mma mania