Deserving a title shot and actually getting on are two vastly different things. Fourth-ranked light heavyweight Ryan Bader believes he was passed over when the UFC lined up champion Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson to headline UFC 192.
After all, Gustafsson is coming off a knockout loss to Anthony Johnson in his last outing.
“I was just surprised pretty much. He was coming off a loss, not even a loss, a knockout loss to the guy that just lost for the championship in Anthony Johnson. So, yeah, I was surprised,” Bader recently told Submission Radio. “There’s nothing really I could do. You know, I pleaded my case and then going forward I was like, okay, well, he has it, so who’s next?”
When the Cormier and Gustafsson fight was announced, Bader wanted answers and gave UFC president Dana White a call to get them.
“I did pick up the phone and call Dana and just asked him, like I said, plead my case and gave him what I thought and told him that if there was any reservations about [my] fighting style or anything, that I'm gonna go out there and try to take that belt and try to finish the guy in front of me and all that kind of stuff, and he just said that they were going with Gustafsson,” explained Bader. “That’s where it stood and I tried to have him reconsider, but their mind was pretty much set on that.”
Bader was scheduled to fight Cormier at UFC Fight Night 68, but Cormier was removed from the match-up to face Johnson for the vacant title at UFC 187 after former champion Jon Jones was stripped of his title. Cormier defeated Johnson by submission to capture the belt, and he and Bader had a headed exchange during the UFC 187 post-fight press conference. (See video of Cormier and Bader nearly coming to blows at the presser.)
He felt that a title fight against Cormier was on the horizon. It didn’t materialize, so Bader put the disappointment behind him. The only thing on Bader’s mind at the moment is his UFC 192 opponent, Rashad Evans.
“Moving forward, it’s Rashad. That’s it. The past is the past. I’ll catch up to those guys later, hopefully after this fight,” said the 32-year-old. “If I get through Rashad, (White) doesn't really see being able to deny me not getting a title shot.”