Former top ranked UFC light heavyweight Ryan Bader has found a whole world of success outside the confines of the Octagon. Darth left the UFC all the way back in 2016, off a TKO win over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. In the seven years since, the Power MMA product has put together a 9-2 (1 NC) record, capturing the light heavyweight and heavyweight titles in the process.
This week, at Bellator 300, Bader was expected to defend his heavyweight belt against multiple-time title contender Linton Vassell. Unfortunately, just a few days before fight night, Vassell was forced from the event due to illness. Which is when fellow UFC vet and recent Bellator light heavyweight Grand Prix finalist Corey Anderson made an offer to step up.
Corey Anderson calls out Bellator champ Ryan Bader
Beyond his 4-1 (1 NC) run of success in the Viacom owned promotion, Corey Anderson has good reason to claim rights to a title fight against Ryan Bader. Back in 2021, ‘Overtime’ provided one of the rare speed bumps in Bader’s Bellator career, defeating the man via TKO in the semifinal round of the light heavyweight Grand Prix. That loss sent Bader up to heavyweight full time and feels like a rematch that would be meaningful to both men.
Unfortunately for the Renzo Gracie Academy talent, however, in a recent video posted to his Instagram account, Bader revealed that he was not going to be fighting, as planned, at Bellator 300 this weekend.
“Bad news, fight with Linton Vassell is off. Got notified by Bellator officials later last week that he was sick and refusing to fight. Hard no. So, we did everything we could possibly do, had a great camp, were leaving tomorrow. We’re trying a few more things, but it looks like—talking to Bellator and everybody—it is off.
“I don’t get it. Heavyweight title fight, you show up to fight. If you’re ill a week and a half before, I mean, you could get better in a couple days. I’ve been there, I’ve fought sick, but I’m not here to bash him. That just sucks. And everybody who has bought tickets and flew out there and is spending money and all that stuff, but nothing we can do. I’ll probably be out there regardless. If you’re out there, I hope to see ya. And we’re still working on a few more solutions, and I’ll let you guys know.”
Ryan Bader claims Viacom is against booking a new fight
Of course, once Ryan Bader announced that his booking had been officially cancelled, fans were quick to chime in with Corey Anderson’s offer. After all, here was an elite opponent, coming off a win, with a victory over the champ already in his pocket. Anderson has said he’s ready to take the fight, so what’s stopping it from getting booked?
Bader took to the comments of his own Instagram video to respond.
“We told Bellator we are good with anything,” Bader wrote in response to a fan on his social media page. “And it looks like Viacom doesn’t want to pay. They are out Oct and this falling through saves them money.”
That cryptic line about Viacom being “out” has raised a few eyebrows on its own, but rumors have been swirling for months that Bellator was on the verge of being sold to the PFL. Most recently, reports are that the PFL plans on maintaing the Bellator brand for another couple years following the sale, before shuttering the promotion entirely. Something akin to the UFC’s purchase of Strikeforce, back in 2011.
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In a recent interview with MMA Fighting’s Trocacao Franca podcast, Bellator featherweight champion Patricio Pitbull more or less confirmed the news, suggesting that he would like to make the leap over to the UFC now that Bellator is on its way to the scrapyard.
“Well, I’m 36 years old, I’m the biggest record holder in the organization I love,” Freire said, (transcript via FanSided). “It looks like Bellator is really going to be taken over by another organization. I will fulfill my agreement, I will see what proposals will be on the table, but I think my career deserves a trip to the UFC.”
In the meantime, Bellator 300 will go ahead with three title fights on the main card, rather than four. In the main event, lightweight champion Usman Nurmagomedov will defend his title against Brent Primus. Women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg is set to defend her title against Cat Zingano in the co-main. Liz Carmouche will defend the women’s flyweight title against Ilima-Lei Macfarlane on the night as well.
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