Moments after the dusk was settling on UFC 187 a new storm was brewing for newly crowned Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier at the post fight press conference.
Cormier was confronted by fellow 205lb fighter Ryan Bader who not only made a scene at the post fight press conference but had been calling out Cormier in the run up to his Title fight against Anthony Johnson.
While Cormier dismissed Bader as someone trying to make a title shot for himself out of nothing, the move by Bader has certainly got the whole of the MMA community talking. With the UFC Light Heavyweight division in a mix up following the suspension of former Champion Jon Jones, Bader is certainly looking to capitalise on the opportunity in front of him and get himself lined up to be the next Title contender. And fair play to him. If nobody else is willing to step up to the plate why not make a run for it?
Bader may not be known for his trash talking but if he is able to get some real traction with Cormier then it seems unlikely that the UFC would not make the fight. After all Bader is currently ranked #5 in the Light Heavyweight division behind Anthony Johnson, Alexander Gustafsson, Daniel Cormier & Rashad Evans.
But does Bader really deserve a title shot next? Well he is currently riding a four fight win streak which includes victories over Phil Davis and Ovince Saint Preux and was expected to fight Cormier at UFC Fight Night 68 in his next bout, which arguably would have determined the number one contender. Also looking at the four fighters ranked ahead of him, one is now the champ, one just lost to the champ and the other two are out injured.
So why would the UFC not capitalise on the current heat between Cormier and Bader? For me I think there are two things. 1 – Bader’s tendency to only win by decision 2- PPV sales.
So let’s look at number 1 first then. Bader’s early UFC days saw him famed for his knockout power, but not since his fight with Jason Brilz at UFC 139 has he been able to stop an opponent with his hands. In fact in his UFC career to date Bader’s eleven wins have come in the following way; 8 decisions, 2 KO’s and 1 submission. You have to think that had Bader stopped the likes of Rampage Jackson, OSP & Phil Davis then he may have been beating Cormier to a shot at the gold.
Number 2 is the more business response which could potentially not see the fight going ahead. It’s very likely that the UFC will want the Light Heavyweight Title to be defended at a PPV event, but in not entirely convinced the Cormier Vs Bader would do the PPV numbers required to warrant running that risk. It may be a case that should this one go down on a PPV that they boost the card with another Title fight on the same night, but in reality this fight (pre Title implications) was set to headline a Fight Night card.
For me I think that we need more fighters to stand up and call out for Title shots, a strategy which works for a number of fighters. So all credit to Bader for trying to get himself propelled into the title mix. If nothing comes from it then it will at least serve for a future fight with Cormier down the road, but if something does come from it then Bader has just written himself a big cheque just by sending a few tweets and making a 30 second appearance at a press conference. Take a bow Mr Bader.