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Ryan Bader Talks About His Free Agency, MMAAA

Ryan Bader recently appeared on “Submission Radio” to discuss his current contract status, when he might sign and where he might be headed.

If Bader is still a free agent or if he’s signed a new contract

“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.”

On if the UFC has delayed the negotiation process

“Nah, there’s not. They 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.”

If other organizations have reached out to Bader

“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.“

If Bader still has a goal of winning the UFC title or if he’s disillusioned with the pursuit of winning a UFC title like many other fighters

“Yeah, I can see that, and I see what you’re saying. A UFC title used to be something where there’s a clear path of what you gotta do to earn your title shot. Now it’s kind of up in the air. You have guys that are ranked number 13 getting title shots, guys getting title shots off of knock out losses in their last fight. You know, you’re getting random people just getting thrown in based on popularity or their following or who they want to put in there. It’s just one of those things where, the sport I come from in wrestling, we have a bracket. Or if you play football and you’re in the playoffs. If you win, then you move on in the bracket until you’re finally in the finals and then you become champion if you beat that other team, other person in the finals. But it’s not like that. It’s more, you know, it’s kind of an entertainment deal now. So I can see, even for me, it’s lost that lustre a little bit. I get the question a lot, will you be disappointed if you never get a UFC title? My answer is like, no, I’ve had a great career and I’m gonna continue to have a great career. I’ve been around the world, I’ve fought in front of new people, new markets, new countries and all that kind of stuff. And so right now it’s more of what I was saying, I was going out there to have fun. It’s more of that mindset of going out there, yes, getting a better pay check, going out there and having fun, having bigger fights and not worrying about as much. And that’s when I fight my best and I can be more entertaining, which in turn will garner you that title shot and what not. So I’m just keeping my head down and looking at approaching it a little differently.”

On if Bader is frustrated the UFC didn’t give him a title shot while he was on his back-to-back winning streak

“Yeah, you do have some frustrations there and it is what it is. I wish things worked out differently and I got a title shot after the winning streak and all that kind of good stuff, but I’m not one to look back and dwell on it. That’s why I’ve always bounced back from my losses – I just said, screw it, let’s move on and go for forward, and so that’s kind of where I’m at. There’s times were you look back and yeah you feel slighted here or there. One hundred percent.”

Thoughts on the MMAAA

“When I first saw it – I’m actually good friends with Cain Velasquez, you know, I didn’t know he was part of the association or anything. But my first reaction was, man, these are some big names. There’s been other organizations and other associations in the past that kind of popped up, but I don’t feel like they got any traction. This one looks like it will, and you have a lot of big-name guys in there right off the bat and it’s one of those things, it needs to happen. Sooner or later, it enviably is going to happen. “

“You’re kind of seeing these guys retire and being at the end of their careers and kind of being unhappy because they don’t have this, they don’t have that, or whether it’s healthcare or some sort of retirement deal or little stuff. So it needs to happen and I believe it’s a step in the right direction for sure.”

If Bader plans on calling his friend Cain to find out more information about the MMAAA

“Yeah, for sure. It’s scary for fighters because you look at it and you go, okay, it’s great that we have these big names in there and we’re starting this conversation, we’re starting this whole deal, but what’s going to happen? What’s going to happen going forward? What’s your plans? What actions are you going to put into play here? What’s the first step, what’s the second step? What are you guys trying to get out of it? You know, things like that. Are you trying to gather fighters and basically what’s going to be the play? How are you gonna get this accepted? Basically, what it really boils down to is how you’re going to get that accepted by basically the UFC? So I know it’s just getting people on board and all that. But I’d love to hear the steps on that plan.”

On wanting a good deal in order to avoid retiring with nothing, and also the taboo of testing the free agent market

“Absolutely. I’m one of those guys that’s right there in the middle. You know, I make decent money, but I’m not making the champion money or anything like that, and I get that. But if I was making 30 and 30 and I’m 33 years old and I’ve had however many fights, maybe 20 fights in the UFC, it’d be kind of daunting looking it as something that I could keep up. And so it’s definitely one of those things. And there are guys like that. There’s guys out there that have 20 fights that are making that kind of money – even 40 and 40, it might sound like a lot of money to some of the listeners, but when you have to pay everything out and then realize that you’ve gotta start over once you’re done fighting. And for me, I wanna get out of MMA completely when I’m done and I don’t have the heart for it anymore. I don’t wanna go into coaching or anything like that. So I’m gonna have to start over doing something else, cause I get burned out here and there. I still love to compete, I still love to train and what not, but there’ll come a time when I wanna be totally done. And so you gotta set yourself up, for sure. So that’s definitely one of the reasons why I’m basically just looking at my options. It got to a point where it’s kind of taboo to fight your contract out and see what you’re worth, because we’ve kind of had that pressure put on us throughout our whole career, and UFC kind of puts that pressure on you a little bit. So yeah, all I’m doing is just fighting it out and seeing what I’m worth, just like any other athlete in any other sport.”

The time frame of when this new deal will be done and if Bader is waiting until after the light heavyweight title fight

“No, I would say before that. They don’t even know when the title fight is gonna happen, so I’m not waiting that long. So what we’re going to do is, we’re going to see what the UFC wants to do, what they kind of want to offer. If not, we’ll ask to be kind of released from the kind of a waiting period so we can go get our offers elsewhere and we can bring it back and see if the UFC wants to match it or not. So I would hope this be resolved by sometime before January or at least January sometime. So I’m hoping sooner rather than later.”

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Fight Cards

UFC Fight Night 119: Brunson vs. Machida

Event Date: October 28, 2017
Broadcast: TBD

Bellator 186: Bader vs. Vassell

Event Date: November 3, 2017
Broadcast: Spike

UFC 217: Bisping vs. St-Pierre

Event Date: November 4, 2017
Broadcast: PPV, Fox Sports 1, UFC Fight Pass

Bellator 187: McKee vs. Moore

Event Date: November 10, 2017
Broadcast: Spike

UFC Fight Night 120: Poirier vs. Pettis

Event Date: November 11, 2017
Broadcast: TBD

Bellator 188: Pitbull vs. Weichel 2

Event Date: November 16, 2017
Broadcast: Spike