There’s no real competition when it comes to who the biggest promotion in mixed martial arts is. The UFC’s roster size, event schedule, and annual revenue all combine to dwarf their competition around the globe. Still, at least in the US, Bellator has carved out their place as a bargaining rival for some of MMA’s elite talents.
In recent years, Bellator has lured Gegard Mousasi, Lyoto Machida, Ryan Bader, Frank Mir, Josh Barnett, and Phil Davis to their ranks, and brought up their own host of young talent to compete at the highest levels. The latest fighter to make the jump from the UFC over to Bellator is longtime UFC light heavyweight Corey ‘Overtime’ Anderson. Anderson appeared poised for a title shot against longtime champion Jon Jones just last year, after four straight victories, before a hard KO loss to Jan Blachowicz put an end to his hopes.
And while he still had fights left on his contract, after the defeat Anderson negotiated his release from the UFC to join up with the Viacom-owned promotion. It’s a move that fellow former UFC light heavyweight, and current two-division Bellator champion Ryan Bader feels will pay off big for Anderson.
“I know Corey pretty well, too, we trained together in the past,” Bader recently told MMA Fighting. “I brought him in when I fought Phil Davis and all that kind of stuff.”
“That’s a great pickup for Bellator and I think it was a great decision on his part, too. I can guarantee you he’s getting paid way more.”
As of his late-2018 UFC 232 bout against Ilir Latifi, Anderson was officially recorded as making $65,000/$65,000 to fight for the UFC. Bader officially pocketed $100,000 for his most recent Bellator 226 title fight against Cheick Kongo. He also made $150,000 for his Bellator 214 heavyweight Grand Prix finale win over Fedor Emelianenko just previous to that. However, ‘Darth’ cautioned fans against reading too deep into those numbers when trying to get the full picture of what he’s making with the organization.
“People always say, ‘Oh I saw the payouts,’ and you can’t read those,” Bader said. “Bellator is definitely stepping up and paying these guys, paying us. I had a great contract coming out of the UFC into Bellator, but it was that second contract that made me really, really happy.
“I think more and more people are going to see this as an alternate route and kind of bet on themselves. I get wanting to fight in the UFC. I got my start there. I fought 20 times there. I won The Ultimate Fighter. I was top-five pretty much the whole time. It definitely was a great period in my career, but it was time to move on.”
While no debut date or opponent has yet been announced for Anderson, Bader admitted that he’d be perfectly fine with the Mark Henry-trained fighter getting an instant title shot. “He’s deserving, so I wouldn’t mind that at all,” Bader told MMA Junkie, noting that he also debuted against then-champion Phil Davis in his first fight with the promotion.
In the meantime, Bader is lined up for the second defense of his light heavyweight title on August 21st, when he takes on 12-2 Russian top contender Vadim Nemkov. Could just be that Anderson will be in line for whoever walks out of that bout with the title around their waist.