Bellator bolsters roster again with addition of light heavyweight Ryan Bader

Bellator MMA’s run of big-name free agent signings continued on Monday with the signing of veteran light heavyweight Ryan Bader. 

CEO Scott Coker broke the news to Bader, 33, who formally announced his signing with Bellator during an appearance on the MMA Hour, later posted a video on his Twitter account. 

“I’m a Bellator MMA fighter right now. I’m super excited,” Bader said. “I feel like I’m in the best physical and mental shape in my career. I’m coming in there to wreck shop.”

Bader (22-5), made his UFC debut in 2008 and never fell too far from the 205-pound title picture over the next eight years. The former collegiate wrestler at Arizona State closed out his UFC deal with a TKO victory against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in their November rematch. 

While Bader doesn’t have a date set for his promotional debut, he called out Bellator light heavyweight champion Phil Davis on Monday. Bader was the last man to defeat Davis when he claimed a split decision in January 2015. 

“Phil Davis, step up,” Bader said. “Let’s fight in June. I’m coming for that belt. Let’s do it.”

Bader’s mention of June was a reference to another headline Bellator made on Monday when it announced a pay-per-view card for June 24 at New York’s Madison Square Garden.  

Bader also owns victories over the likes of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Rashad Evans and Ovince Saint Preux. His only defeats came against top-level competition: Jon Jones, Tito Ortiz, Lyoto Machida, Glover Teixeira and Anthony Johnson. 

The UFC waived its matching rights to Bader last week, providing him with his release. 

CBS Sports Insider

Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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