Ryan Bader on free agency: ‘There’s definitely interest out there’

Ryan Bader is a free agent, but he’s not sure what’s going to happen yet. The UFC light heavyweight contender recently fought twice in less than months, emphatically defeating Ilir Latifi and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and re-establishing his claim for a title shot. But those two fights brought his contract to an end, and the future is unclear for the TUF 8 winner.

In an interview with Submission Radio, Bader described where he’s at right now in terms of dealing with the UFC:

“No, I’m still a free agent right now. And over the next week or so, we’re gonna see kind of what we’re doing and what not as far as if we’re going to take any offers elsewhere, getting offers from the UFC, all that kind of stuff. So we haven’t gone there yet, we’re in the preliminary stages of it. So just kind of waiting right now and we will see. We were gonna wait for that light heavyweight title fight to happen, but obviously that’s pushed back, so we started the process a little earlier than expected.”


“(The UFC) usually come to you with one fight left. So they offered us something and we looked at it and we didn’t even really counter, we just looked at it and said we’re gonna fight it out because it’s pretty much the same contract that we had, a little bit more. So we just said, hey why not, let’s just fight it out. So it was our decision. So we’re just in the process right now of just kind of figuring out what we’re going to do.”

Bader does make it clear that other organizations are interested in his services, even if he doesn’t delve very far into it:

“Without getting into specifics or anything like that, there’s been interest, for sure. I can’t really talk much about it until this stuff is all done and finalized and what not, but there’s definitely interest out there. So like I said, we’re in the preliminary stages right now, we’re talking to the UFC. It’s one of those things where we (either) get an offer from the UFC or do we go out and test free agency? So we’re in that stage right now.“

Check out the whole interview above, where Bader shares his thoughts on the MMAAA and whether he’ll be talking to friend Cain Velasquez about it; when he feels like his contract situation will be resolved; his frustrations with not getting a title shot yet; and much more.



Even though it’s a shallow LHW division in the UFC, I just don’t think the brass have a love or vested interest for Bader… After the Rumble annihalation, what’s left for him there? being a perennial #4-5 fighter but never getting over the next hurdle?

I feel for the guy and he is def above the middle of the pack in terms of talent and skill but currently there’s just no need to throw cash or incentives at him other than to have another body in the UFC LHW division… But I can see Bellator wanting him for match ups with the top of their LHW div.
IMO Bader could probably be the Bellator LHW & HW champ with the current roster of fighters.

I'm still interested in how DC deals with him, but nobody else seems to be

Believe it or not

@Bong Hyun Kim I think DC would KO Bader.

I don’t wish any ill will towards Bader, but I doubt the UFC will resign him. He is good enough to beat everyone outside of the top 5. He just has 0 personality in interviews and can be boring at times.

I just worry that a year down the road Cormier is still champ and ends up defending the 205 strap against a vastly inferior opponent because they let guys like Bader and Phil Davis walk

That's where UFC gets the sport and entertainment lines get twisted...

UFC probably figures hey we do need LHW’s that are gonna be contenders BUT if they don’t sell ppvs or drive interests what are they worth to us? and the answer isn’t going to be the # the free agent LHW is looking for and he is gonna walk.

I'm excited about it

The competition for top talent raises pay, which acts as an incentive to future competitors. If the majors are bidding healthily, it grows the divisions.

i feel the same teep,

the ufc is not a very lucrative path for all but the 1% of the 1% of athletes with a larger than life persona or the ability to wreck everyone that steps in front of them. for the reat of the top tier athletes, the nba/nfl/mlb etc.. are where the $ is, even for the bench warmers. until the pay gap is shrunk, few elite athletes will even consider getting punched in the head for a living in MMA

what’s left for him there? being a perennial #4-5 fighter but never getting over the next hurdle?

exactly that. offer him a 6 figure a fight deal, let him fight names and win more than lose in kinda bad fights and eventually some young prospects will beat him.

no reason to walk away from bader even though no one gives a shit about him. he does solid work and belongs in the big leagues

Bader's last reported paycheck was $47,000 to lose to Machida.

So he’s probably getting $50,000/$50,000 offers at best, based on a 2012 paycheck report.

Poor Bader, if that’s the case.

My comment wasn't to contest Bader's worth...

He is a great fighter at a level above most but he is not going to get a 6 figure guarantee straight away… could you honestly see these new owners handing him 100K+ Win or Lose per fight?!?

He is in a good position to sign a better contract as a free agent but I just beleive, sadly it won’t be from UFC.

I agree and its not only the UFC

Hey I could be 100% wrong I was about Phil Davis,that being said I just don’t see organizations especially Bellator offering Bader much more per fight then UFC already did or even that. Yes he does have some fan friendly fights especially more so as of late but Bader is usually more then content to clinch against the cage & fight for over/unders and throw short shots or lock himself down in half guard and ride out a decision and lets be honest unless your name is GSP that style just goes not sell.

PS – I wonder if he will actually get less in the end if he has no choice but to go back to the UFC ? The offer the UFC first put on the table the 2nd time around it could very well be less and still more then any organization offered during Free agency ?

Fan friendly or not, I hope Bader at the very least gets paid with his next contract

He’s put in the work over the years after all and held a consistently high level. That counts for something in my book.

I feel like WME might be wise to pay Bader.

I don’t think they want to show too many people the door. Larkin already seems to be considering bolting. We seem to be getting a lot of discontent with fighters

If anything, the shallow division helps immensely.

They’d let Bendo and (maybe) Larkin go, sure, but good LHWs are still rare.

I hope they do but at the same time, he's hardly a draw

If they could leave a exciting fighter like Larkin out in the cold, I don’t like Baders chances of getting a decent contract.
It makes me wonder though; the Asian market tend to look for other qualities. Perhaps "The American Wrestler" archetype that people tend to break Bader down as would be more attractive over there, especially considering him being of fairly high caliber?

he drew better than bendo the other week, and that nog card was a bit of a duffer

he’s not a star, but MMA fans do know with him you could get something pretty cool when he fights, win or lose (occasionally has stinkers, but so does everyone).

I'd like to see him leave

Bellator is slowly getting some fighters and frankly I like the product so… Bader vs Sonnen, Lawal, Silva, Davis, McGeary, there’s plenty of fights for him over there, maybe more than the UFC

i dont see Bellator paying him

their ratings suck and they dont have a bottomless wallet. They’re gonna start hurting for cash if they keep offering deals to the old UFC names who leave the promotion and people are going to want to see some sort of turnaround soon. I dont think what they are doing is working and i struggle to grasp how their books even look remotely close to breaking even

I agree

Talking about Bellator ratings I just saw a report the other day about Bellator’s ratings for 2016 and its not good at all. They are going down yearly under Scott Coker,casual MMA fans are just not tuning into spike for Bellator shows especially since Kimbo passed. They are struggling to just get 600k a show.

sonnen vs Ortiz will be interesting though


I am curious seeing the ratings numbers Chael pulls his first time back in years ?

It could be good for him, sure.

Enough quality ex-UFC fighters and Bellator can start having title fights on each card.

Poor Bader couldn't even be Bellator champ

Since Davis is the new owner of the belt. Still, wish him the best in his career.


Did you forget Bader already beat Davis?

Edit: Reply fail…

DAMN So did I actually

And thats the problem his fights unless they are recent are very forgettable !

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