Does Ryan Bader deserve the next UFC light heavyweight title shot?

TUF 8 winner Ryan Bader
TUF 8 winner Ryan Bader

UFC light heavyweight Ryan Bader has put himself in a great position in the past year. He has won five of his last six fights dating back to January 2013, and could be next in line for new UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier’s first title defense.

The two fighters were set to meet next week at UFC Fight Night 68 before Jon Jones was stripped of the UFC light heavyweight title which allowed Cormier to fight the number one contender Anthony Johnson at UFC 187. Cormier defeated Johnson via third round rear naked choke to become the new champion.

The two fighters have been talking smack to one another prior to Cormier’s UFC 187 fight and at the post-fight press conference. It would make sense somewhat that Bader could get the next shot at Cormier since he was scheduled to fight him.

However, the question is does Ryan Bader deserve the UFC light heavyweight title fight?

As I mentioned, Bader has won five of his last six fights since January 2013, but the latest split decision win over Phil Davis was certainly questionable. It was not a performance that UFC brass or fans would look at and say he should definitely get the next title fight. However, the UFC stripping Jones of the title has put them in a difficult situation. All of top five contenders had already lost to Jones recently except Anthony Johnson, which is why he had the original shot against Jones prior to him being stripped of the title.

There were some pundits that didn’t believe that Daniel Cormier deserved another title shot, being that he had just lost to Jon Jones in January. However, I think his performance against Jones was greater in a loss than any win that Ryan Bader or Ovince St. Preux have had up to that point.

In fact, it could be argued that Ovince St. Preux has been on a more impressive run than Ryan Bader winning six of his last seven fights. The only problem is that the one loss came against Ryan Bader just over six months ago. OSP has finished  five of those opponents either via submission or TKO. However, four of Bader’s last five wins have come via decision against similar levels of competition. In fact, OSP is probably Bader’s best win since beating Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in 2012.

Here’s what we know:

  • UFC President Dana White has gone on record stating that Jon Jones will get an immediate title shot if he can avoid prison with the felony charges he has pending, but there’s no time table on his return at the moment.
  • Ovince St. Preux is set to take on former UFC light heavyweight title challenger Glover Teixeira in August. Teixeira knocked out Ryan Bader in September 2013.
  • Ryan Bader doesn’t have a fight scheduled at this time.
  • Daniel Cormier has fought twice in five month span and probably won’t return until later this fall/winter.

So should the UFC give Bader the title shot? It’s a fight that many (including myself) believe that Cormier would win easily. Should the UFC wait until the OSP/Teixeira fight takes place. If OSP wins impressively, give him a shot at Cormier on the December card since that would give him about 3 months to prepare and also give Cormier three fights in the calendar year, (I  also believe Cormier would win that fight easily as well) and it would also give Jon Jones time to possibly workout his legal situation.

Should the UFC matchup Bader with Anthony Johnson or Alexander Gustafsson prior to a title shot opportunity? At least at that point he would have beaten a top five light heavyweight should he be successful there.  I know prior to Cormier beating Johnson to claim the title, he didn’t have any wins over top five light heavyweights. However, the UFC probably looked at his body of work as a heavyweight where he beat a lot of top 10 fighters to justify the title shot with his move to light heavyweight. It was sort of a situation similar to win Frankie Edgar moved from lightweight to featherweight and was given a title shot against Jose Aldo.  It’s not exactly the same, but you get the drift.

Let me hear your thoughts.  Does Ryan Bader deserve the title shot, or should the UFC go with one of the other scenarios I presented?

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