Bellator Close to Signing Ryan Bader

One of the UFC’s top light-heavyweights appears to be heading to Bellator. #4-ranked Ryan Bader has been in negotiations with the Scott Coker-led promotion since fighting out his UFC contract, and he now appears close to getting an offer he may not refuse.

Bader (22-5) appeared on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour and said he expects to get an official offer from Bellator within the next few days.

“I have a Bellator offer coming either today or tomorrow,” he said. “We kind of know the particulars. I went out and met with Scott Coker and the Bellator boys and I liked what they had to say, and I liked what they were about. So we’re going through that process. That being said, the UFC has the right to match. It’s kind of in a weird place. I’m super-excited to be in this position. I’m in a great position."

Bader has looked his best in his previous two bouts, knocking out Ilir Latifi in September before stopping Antonio Nogueira in November. He has only lost once since 2013, getting knocked out by #1 contender Anthony Johnson in January of last year.

“I was going into that [Nogueira] fight…I was soaking up every single minute,” he said. “I started off, what, four or five or six fights with local promotions and whatnot, then I went onto the The Ultimate Fighter and ended up winning The Ultimate Fighter and into the UFC and had 20 fights in the UFC. I traveled the world and everything, and going into that fight it was a very exciting time. You know, I was fighting Lil Nog down in Brazil. I was fighting my contract out. I knew it, everybody knew it. So I was kind of soaking in every little moment potentially being my last fight in the UFC."

While the UFC may match Bellator’s offer, Bader says that his decision will come down to more than just the dollar amount on paper. He pointed to the Reebok sponsorship deal as one reason that the UFC may not be the best fit for him going forward.

“There’s other stuff than just the money in the terms of the contract,” he said. “Part of it, and why I actually fought it out, was opportunity, what’s the plan, and smart stuff. Obviously sponsors, I took a big hit in sponsors when that whole [Reebok] thing came out. Just little stuff. So when it came time to re-sign, we said, why would we sign? Why wouldn’t we bet on ourselves, play this thing out and see what’s out there. See what I’m worth, see what opportunities are out there.”

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