The UFC light heavyweight division has seen massive changes over the last month. At the forefront of these changes are obviously the stripping of former champion Jon Jones and the crowning of new champion Daniel Cormier. Jones was suspended and pulled from his UFC 187 title bout against Anthony “Rumble” Johnson after he was arrested on felony hit-and-run charges. “DC” then stepped in to replace the fallen champ and submitted Johnson in the third round to become the lineal UFC light heavyweight champion.
However, another interesting and almost shocking change is that Ryan Bader has emerged as a title contender and could very well be next in line for a title shot. Bader currently sits at No. 3 in the rankings and has put together a four-fight winning streak. Some fans may find this idea shocking because Bader is a strong wrestler and tends to grind out wins, a style that may not please all fans, but he has been winning nonetheless.
It may not be just his wins that will earn him a title shot though, as “Darth” has developed quite a heated rivalry with “DC”. The two were supposed to meet at this Saturday’s (June 6, 2015) UFC Fight Night 68 from New Orleans, but Cormier was pulled from the bout after earning the title shot. Bader also campaigned for the title shot, and was not happy when it was given to “DC”. The two went back and forth on twitter, and the beef rose from there.
The rivalry came to fruition at the UFC 187 post-fight presser when Cormier essentially called out Bader, saying that Bader was the easiest fight in the division. “Darth” did not take kindly to this, and recently spoke on the topic with Submission Radio, saying that Cormier had the easiest path to a title. This may be a fair claim, as “DC” hasn’t necessarily beat any top 205-pounders except for “Rumble”. Bader also noted that he has not been given the respect he deserves, and that he wants to prove himself by beating Cormier:
“He drops down to 205 pounds, and then he fights Patrick Cummins and Dan Henderson, and then gets a title shot,” Bader said. “He gets his butt whooped, and then gets gifted another title shot, and then finally wins the belt. You know, that’s pretty much the easiest path that I’ve ever heard or ever seen anybody getting that belt, the UFC belt. So for him to say that, then by his logic, then let’s do it. But I know I can go out there. I know I can beat him.”
“Yeah I haven’t gotten the respect, especially from him. So that’s why I wanna go out there, that’s why I wanna fight him, that’s why I wanna prove to him and everybody else that not only do I belong in the same octagon with him, I’m gonna beat him and I deserve to have that belt around my waist.”
With Jones never actually losing the belt, some don’t even consider Cormier the real champ. Continuing on, Bader gave his take on the situation, saying that Jones essentially took himself out of competition and the fighters can’t do anything about that:
“Yeah I kind of do. I have two thought processes on this whole situation. The first is; everybody in the 205 pound division, we didn’t get together and cast Jon Jones out because he was dominating or anything like that. You know? He put himself in this position. So we’re just making the best of what we have. What else can we do? We can’t sign a petition saying ‘Hey we want Jon Jones back, because this belt doesn’t feel right’. You know? So we just carry on business as usual, and our main goal is to fight those fights in front of us, win those fights, and ultimate goal is to have that belt around your waist. So we’re doing what we want, and have been striving to do.”
In closing, Bader took another shot at Cormier, saying that the championship lifestyle has turned the former Olympian into a diva:
“I just don’t want to see Cormier or any other fighters start taking that Diva route. And so like you saw right when he came to the press conference, he goes “address me as champ.” And you know he could be kind of joking around here and there, but you know I’ve been around him, and I can just see it just piling on, piling on, and pretty soon he’s going to be a full blown diva.”
Check out the full interview below: