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Ryan Bader eyes new Bellator deal, not interested in free agency or UFC return

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Ryan Bader made history this past Saturday night (Jan. 26, 2019) by becoming Bellator MMA’s first-ever dual champion after knocking out Fedor Emelianenko in 35 seconds at Bellator 214 to win the promotion’s Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament.

See it again here.

Holding the light heavyweight and heavyweight straps, “Darth” now has a bevy of options at his feet moving forward as his stock has skyrocketed following his monumental win. First things first, though, Bader says he wants to lock down a new deal before anything else.

Speaking on The Ariel Helwani MMA Show, Ryan says he has no interest in testing the free agency waters and going back to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has never crossed his mind.

“No, I want to do a new deal now. I have one fight left, I have the champion’s clause or whatever, in my contract. Two-division champion, light heavyweight belt, heavyweight belt; if they want me to do something in particular, defend the heavyweight belt or whatnot. Let’s get a new deal done. I have been having a great time with Bellator and I want to stay there. But that has to happen first,” he said.

Having spent eight years fighting inside the Octagon before jumping over to Bellator, Ryan never got the chance to compete for the UFC 205-pound title. Since making the switch, Ryan has been on a tear by going 5-0 and becoming the light heavyweight champion in his Bellator debut. In just 19 months, “Darth” now has all the belts, cash, and hasn’t really taken damage, so you can’t blame him for wanting a new deal which could come with a hefty raise.

“It’s a selfish sport and you are in business for yourself. Obviously I have been treated well and I think I am going to be treated very well after this with Bellator. I haven't really had those thoughts,” he added, regarding a UFC return.

“We are going to come to the table and go through all the hoopla with that. If they make me really happy...literally I have no regrets and not even thinking about that at all. I’m happy where I am at and definitely hoping I can get it done”

As far as potential next opponents, Bader says Tito Ortiz and Chael Sonnen are top options, though he could very well defend his 265-pound strap next if the right opponent comes along.

For complete Bellator 214 results and coverage click here.