Highly ranked light heavyweight Ryan Bader is the latest high-profile addition to the Bellator family.Bellator President Scott Coker today informed MMAjunkie that Bader will today accept a multi-fight contract deal with the Viacom-owned promotion, ending a period of free agency after fighting out his UFC contract.Bader (22-5 MMA, 15-5 UFC) is currently the No. 5 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA light-heavyweight rankings. Coker did not disclose a timeline for the fighter’s promotional debut.The winner of “The Ultimate Fighter 8” most recently fought this past November at UFC Fight Night 100, where he stopped Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in a rematch of a 2010 meeting he won via decision. It was his second consecutive win following a knockout loss to current UFC title contender Anthony Johnson that delayed his mission to fight for the belt.Before that setback, Bader struggled to gain traction in the UFC’s 205-pound division despite a five-fight winning streak that had him rising in the rankings. He appeared to line up a title shot when he clashed with Daniel Cormier after Cormier seized the vacant title at UFC 187. But the promotion subsequently picked onetime title challenger Alexander Gustafsson as the next challenger.Bader subsequently told MMAjunkie his plan was to forget about the title and keep winning fights. But after two wins, his career position didn’t seem to improve, and he signaled he would fight out his contract and test the open market. While he maintained his desire to stay in the UFC, he said he would entertain other offers.This past month, UFC President Dana White indicated he wouldn’t push to keep Bader in the fold.
“We had told Ryan Bader he was good to go,” White said. “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 its the right move for him.
It took more than one month for Bader to put pen to paper, but today his move is complete. He already owns a win over current Bellator champ Phil Davis, whom he beat in the octagon in January 2015 at UFC on FOX 14.
For more on Bellator’s upcoming schedule, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.