Ryan Bader is on the brink of signing for Bellator, and this could be the week when he finally puts pen to paper.
Bader and his team are currently working through the final few details of his contract, and having been a free agent since last November, he's looking forward to taking up a whole new challenge. Speaking to Submission Radio last week, Bader revealed the reasons why he was jumping ship to the UFC's biggest rival.
"Yeah, for me it wasn't just about are you going to pay me more money," Bader said. "It was more involved than that. I think I'm at the best point, physically and mentally in my career. I'm the best fighter I've ever been and whatever organization I was going into, I was going into to win the belt and have that mentality.
"I wasn't a guy coming over to say, 'OK, I'm going over to Bellator because I lost a bunch of fights in the UFC and I'm going to go over here and try to fight out a couple of fights at the end of my career.' That's not even the case. I'm going over there to win that belt. I feel like I'm the best fighter I've ever been at any point in my career right now and just getting started. And so for me it was a ton about that plan."
Negotiating the right deal
Bader revealed that the talks with Bellator weren't as straightforward as him receiving one offer and accepting it. The former TUF 8 winner said he and his team were negotiating wisely and making sure it was deal that would please all parties.
"No, of course we negotiated--it'd be dumb not to," Bader said. "Yeah, so we went back and forth, and it didn't take too long to come to a place where everybody was happy. And like I said, I was very involved in the whole thing. I flew out and met with Rich [Chou] and Scott Coker and sat down and had lunch with them and that's where I kind of came with my questions--you know, what's the plan, what's Bellator doing in the future? All that kind of stuff. And I was impressed.
"When we went back and got that offer, that was with my lawyer, Dave Martin, and them going back and forth and he was bringing me everything as soon as it came over, and we settled on a great amazing offer where we're going to be involved in different opportunities."
Losing out of massive amount of sponsorship money in the UFC
Bader then talked about the importance of being able to have his own sponsors during a fight week. Back at his fight at UFC Fight Night 100 in Curitiba, Brazil, Bader received an official outfitting payment of just $15,000 despite being in the main event against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
Bader disclosed the amount he would get with his own sponsors prior to Reebok and revealed that he was losing anything between $20,000-$65,000 every time he stepped inside the Octagon.
"One thing too which is huge for me is being able to have our own sponsorships," Bader said. "In the UFC before the sponsorship with Reebok, the least I've ever made was $35,000 grand--and I made up to $80,000 a fight--that's a huge amount per fight to be cut.
"I mean, yes, we do get paid on tenure and I was one of the highest tenure guys, and we all know how that works with Reebok, but it's a huge thing to be able to represent your sponsors again. I have sponsors that have stuck with me through that whole process of not being allowed in the cage and all that, so it's a great opportunity to get them back out there and kind of repay them when they stuck by and they've always been a part of your team."
Hearing his Bellator offer wouldn't be matched by TV
Dana White revealed to USA Today last week that the UFC would not be matching Bellator's offer and that he was resigned to losing him to the UFC's rivals. Bader said that until then he hadn't heard officially that the UFC wouldn't be matching Bellator but that he could see it coming.
"This was the first time I'd actually heard it coming out," Bader said. "We heard like some of the matchmakers or whoever my lawyer was talking to say, 'We don't know if we can match that kind of offer,' or whatever and, 'It has to be structured differently here and there,' but it was never one of the ones where they said, 'Hey, we're not going to sign, go ahead and do what you want to do.
"I respect the UFC for not saying anything beforehand in the negotiations and stuff, but they were interested, they kept asking what other offers and what not. When I heard--not even watched that interview, I just saw the snippets or whatever of people translating or what not in the media--that was kind of the first I'd heard that definitely of 'We're not going to match it.'"