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Bellator 180: Ryan Bader Interview

Ryan Bader was a guest on a recent edition of Submission Radio out of Australia. Bader will make his Bellator debut later this summer against Phil Davis for the light heavyweight title at Bellator 180.

Check out highlights from the interview below as Bader discusses Anthony Johnson, Davis, their first fight and more:

If Ryan was surprised when Anthony Johnson retired from MMA

“Yeah, no, I kind of herd rumblings – no pun intended there – that he was gonna retire. I just heard it from other people so I wasn’t too surprised when he was actually retiring. You know, I heard he had a job with the Rams or something like that. So you know, it is what it is. It’s more power to him. He has dominated a lot of guys, he lost that title fight, but I feel that his mind wasn’t really in that one. If you’re already thinking about retiring going into a fight, you’re kind of done regardless. So yeah. More people should do that, more people should say, ‘hey, this is my time, I want to get out before it’s too late, before I get knocked out ten times in my career and what not’. So yeah, I think he had a lot of potential and a lot of great fights left in him, but more power to him for him to say, ‘hey I’m done’.”

If he’s glad that Anthony Johnson didn’t retire during his contract negotiations because then the UFC may have kept him around due to the think roster at light heavyweight

“Exactly. I have a great contract with Bellator and everything. It was something I could not pass up, and I didn’t think the UFC was gonna match that. I kind of feel like it’s a one of a kind deal with them and in MMA in general. So I feel like we have one of the better deals outside of being the UFC champion and getting pay-per-view points and being able to pull numbers. I feel like I have one of the better deals in all of mixed martial arts.”

How Ryan found out King Mo was hurt and that he’s now fighting for the title against Phil Davis

“I was just at the house on Sunday. My manager called and said ‘hey, King Mo’s out’. I’m like, ‘oh man’. I just had all my friends and family get tickets out to New York and they’re super expensive, flying across country. And then he’s like, ‘well but we have Phil Davis’. And I’m like, ‘awesome, but when?’ you know, figuring they’re not gonna do it on the New York card cause they already have two title fights. And he said, ‘no, same deal. New York. Same Madison Square Garden, main eventing on Spike’. So it’s kind of the best of everything. Like, it all kind of worked out. We had the option to wait for Phil Davis later on, potentially in November, but I wanted to be on the New York card, so I said, ‘hey I’ll take a fight, let’s do whoever’. And then they kind of came in and said, ‘if King Mo looks good we’ll do King Mo and you in Madison Square Garden’, cause I wanted to fight regardless on that card. And then hey, it worked out. So I’m super excited and I’ve been training hard throughout this whole process, but you know, ramping it up this week until fight time. So, all I’ve wanted was an opportunity in the UFC or what not, and there’s times where I think I should have had opportunities to fight for the title. So now I have one. It’s just time to go to work and just go out there and win a belt.”

If Ryan Bader sees much a difference between the Phil Davis he fought in the UFC and the Phil Davis that’s now champion in Bellator

“Not really. It’s the same guy. You know, everybody with experience gets better with just being in there. He uses kicks well. I don’t think he likes to get hit very much. That’s why he keeps that distance, he keeps that awkward motion. He obviously has a great ground game, good wrestling. I’ve felt that before already and I’ve been in there with him, so that’s a plus too. I’ve only had one other rematch in my life and that was my last fight with Nogueira, so I look forward to it. I know what he’s bringing, he kind of knows what I’m bringing. But the thing is, I’ve gotten a lot better since our first fight. So that’s where I feel it’s gonna be the difference. I feel like I’ve grown more than he has.”

Ryan’s thought on Davis’ comments that King Mo would’ve beaten him and that Davis is glad he gets to give Ryan a loss first, if Ryan feels like Davis is underestimating him

“Yeah, I do. I feel like I’m a different fighter than when we first fought, so I think he’s gonna be surprised. If he was surprised the first time, he’s going to be even more surprised this time. I’m more well-rounded than I was, my striking is better, everything is better, my mentality is better, and so we’re ready. I’m motivated. He won that title and he has it. I haven’t won a title. I want to go in there and take that away from him and have it for my own. So I’m super motivated and I think it’s gonna be a different fight. I’m looking to go in there and I’m looking to finish this fight and make a statement, for sure.”

How he sees it going

“I don’t really know. It’s just one of those things where you’re just… I’m prepared to go five rounds hard, but if it doesn’t, great. You know, you there and finish the fight, that’s what I want to do. But I’m always prepared to go in there and grind it out. That being said, in the last couple of fights I’ve finished the fights and knocked out Ilir Latifi and then finished Lil Nog on the ground and I’d love to go in there and make it three in a row with a championship fight.”

If Ryan plans on watching the Bellator NYC main event and co-main event after his fight later that night

“Yeah, it’s gonna be a cool position because we’re gonna be fighting early on that card on the Spike portion. So I love doing that. I’ll be fighting before midnight over there, those guys will be fighting at 2am. So I’m used to fighting like that. I fought Phil when it was 3am and it’s just one of those things where you’ve gotta do what you gotta do. But I get to go in there, win a title, sit down with my belt and watch these guys and watch the pay-per-view portion. I don’t know if those guys will be in title contention but it will be good to sit there and watch the guys in my weight class duke it out. Especially some of the legends like Fedor and all that. And I’m looking forward to that, sitting there with the belt and a beer, having a good time.”

What the fight is that Ryan would prefer between Fedor or the winner of Sonnen/ Wanderlei

“Is Tito Ortiz still retired? Obviously, I lost a fight, and upset to Tito back in the day in 2011 or whatnot. So I’d love to get that fight. That’s the one I’ve always wanted to get back. But for me, a Fedor fight would be awesome. It was one of those things where (I’d want to fight him) purely out of respect. I’ve gotten to fight some legends in the sport and he was always one of those guys I always was a huge fan of. I’ve gotten to fight guys like Rampage, all those studs and guys I’ve watched growing up and so definitely Fedor is one of those fights I’d definitely love to have. Even if it wasn’t for the title and if it was just one of those fun catch-weight heavyweight fights, probably definitely him.”

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