Ryan Bader injury update: 'Darth' targeting late summer for UFC return

After choking out Vladimir Matyushenko last January, Ryan Bader has been forced to watch from the sidelines as the rest of the UFC 205-pound division does work. Now that he's in the tail end of his recovery process for a bum MCL, "Darth" looks to his UFC return later this summer.

One man's loss is another man's gain.

When Ryan Bader was forced to withdraw from his fight against Glover Teixeira at UFC 160, scheduled for May 25, 2013 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, James Te Huna got the call to replace him, leaving "Darth" on the sideline as the light heavyweight division moved on without him.

The unexpected break; however, has at least given him the opportunity to refine his boxing skills.

"Right now, I have an MCL injury and I'm hopefully three weeks away from being healed up. I didn't have to have surgery, which was good. As far as the timeline, I don't want to rush it. I'm able to box right now, concentrate on that, so I feel like I'm really improving in that aspect. I just can't get on the ground yet, probably for another three weeks. I wanna get back in there end of summer. It sucks being injured, I wanna get in there and fight. I wanna fight a name, a top guy and keep climbing that ladder. I'm not here to be mediocre. I'm here to fight the best people and my ultimate goal is to have the title."

After winning The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Season 8, "Darth" would string together four straight victories, putting him into a title eliminator fight against Jon Jones at UFC 126, where he was soundly defeated by way of submission in the second round.

Adios, perfect record.

Bader would flounder in his next fight against Tito Ortiz, then go on to win three of his next four bouts, with a crushing knockout loss to Lyoto Machida last August serving as the low point of that stretch.

If he can indeed make it back inside the cage by the end of summer, who would you like to see him fight next?

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