Ryan Bader headlined UFC Sao Paulo this past weekend, where he mauled Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and finished him in the third round. The victory not only marked the 2nd time he beat the PRIDE veteran, it also completed his existing contract with the UFC.
The 33-year-old has been with the UFC since winning season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter, and will now be entering free agency and testing the market. According to Bader, he would love to re-sign with the promotion, but the money has to be right.
“When it came time to re-up on that fight it was kind of like why not fight it out? I got the Lil' Nog fight and now here we are," Bader said. "Look, I love the UFC, I want to fight in the UFC. It's got to make sense though."
"I've been top five for a while now and I want those big fights,” Bader said, then mentioning the upcoming title bout between Cormier and Johnson. "That's who I want to fight. I've fought everybody in this division and been consistent. I think I've won seven out of my last eight fights so I feel like I hit my stride now because I had the momentum after my last loss, I said screw it, I'm just going to go out there and do what I do and not over think it. That's my mindset and hopefully things fall into place."
Bader will be testing the market as the #4 ranked light heavyweight in the world. As he mentioned, he has won 7 of his last 8 bouts, with his only loss in the last 3 years being against #1 contender, Anthony Johnson.
A number of high profile free agents have made the jump from UFC to Bellator, including Rory MacDonald, Ben Henderson, and Phil Davis, who lost to Bader in 2015 and now holds the promotion’s light heavyweight title.