Ryan Bader appears to be headed to Bellator after Dana White indicated the UFC won’t be putting up a fight to keep him in the Octagon.
“We had told Ryan Bader he was good to go,” White said today on ‘Radio Row’ in Houston. “We knew he was going to go to Bellator the entire time. I think Bellator is a good place for Ryan Bader. At this point in his career, I think it’s the right move for him.”
The long-time UFC light-heavyweight fighter had decided to test his worth as a free-agent after his contract ended this past November, indicating that he’d like to stay in the promotion, but only if the deal made sense.
The former ‘Ultimate Fighter Season 8’ winner appeared to be doing so from a position of strength, having won his previous two fights against Ilir Latifi and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, leaving him with an impressive 7-1 run over the past three years.
As such, ‘Darth’ is ranked No.4 in the 205lb division, but despite having had 20 fights in total in the UFC, the 33 year-old hasn’t evolved into a star who is considered ‘a draw’, and that’s likely to be the reason the promotion have opted not to get into a bidding war to retain his services.
This is a similar situation to that of Phil Davis, who also left the UFC’s light-heavyweight division to join Bellator in early 2015, coincidentally after a decision loss to Bader, and he’s since gone on to become his new promotion’s champion at 205lbs.
While it’s true that neither of these fighters was likely to ever be a big draw on pay-per-view for the promotion, their absence leaves the UFC’s light-heavyweight roster looking thinner than it has done in many years, with not much in the way of fresh blood having emerged in recent times to replace those who have left, and those who are approaching the end of their careers.