A light-heavyweight encounter between Anthony Johnson and Ryan Bader has been announced as the headliner for UFC On FOX 18 in New Jersey on January 30th.
Bader had initially been hoping for a title shot next after compiling a five fight winning streak in the division over the past two years, defeating the likes of Ovince St. Preux, Phil Davis and most recently Rashad Evans along the way.
However, the return of Jon Jones threw a big spanner in the works, and meanwhile Johnson was quick to point out that officially he’s still ranked as the No.1 contender in the division, with Bader at No.3, and called out the former TUF winner to a fight to establish who really was worthy of getting the next title shot.
Johnson has already had a chance to do just that, losing by a third round rear-naked choke to current champ Daniel Cormier at UFC 187 back in May of this year, but he’s since rebounded with a KO victory against Jimi Manuwa in September.
Even if Johnson defeats Bader it may still be too soon for him to get another fight with Cormier, but if Jones reclaims the title and ‘Rumble’ holds onto his No.1 contender spot in the mean time then that could pave the way for him to get another opportunity to try and claim the belt.
In addition to Johnson Vs Bader, the UFC have also announced a welterweight fight between Tarec Saffiedine and Jake Ellenberger for UFC On FOX 18.
Former Strikeforce champ Saffiedine is ranked No.9 in the division, but injuries have really hampered his UFC career so far, resulting in just three fights in almost three years, with the most recent being a TKO loss to Rory MacDonald back in October of last year.
During roughly the same period of time Ellenberger has experienced a major dip in form, winning just one of his last five fights and is coming off a first round KO loss to Stephen Thompson which has resulted in him slipping to No.14 on the rankings.