Ryan Bader is doing quite well for himself as the Bellator heavyweight champion, much better than his disclosed pay would indicate in his most recent title defense.
Bader defeated Fedor Emelianenko, now retired, in round one of Saturday’s main event at Bellator 290. He retained his title. Following the event, the California State Athletic Commission disclosed fighter pay for the event to MMA Fighting, which revealed that Bader made $150,000 for the title fight on CBS, while Emelianenko made $100,000.
While those with a lot of experience in the sport know how fighters are paid under these conditions, it may be a bit overwhelming for someone new to the area. That’s because it is, and it doesn’t paint the entire picture.
“No, I made significantly more,” Bader said on The MMA Hour. “You get that a lot. They’ll release that and people are like, ‘Fedor only made $100,000 for this fight?’ No. If I were making this, I would not be fighting.
“This is a job for me and I’m making the kind of money where it’s hard to walk away from — to walk in a cage at our level, and how good we are, and leave that money on the table. The bigger players, in there, the champions, that kind of stuff, it’s disclosed pay, but Bellator treats us very, very well and I know they treat Fedor even better.”
The 39-year-old Bader signed with Bellator in 2017 after a 20-fight run with the UFC. Since joining the promotion, “Darth” has captured titles in both the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions, even holding both belts simultaneously for a stretch of time.
Bader is able to see both the positive and negative sides to fighter pay in the UFC or Bellator and feels that he has made the right choice by moving to the former as it’s financially more secure.
” Oh, that’s right, eight to nine times more [than the UFC paid me],” Bader said. “Look, we know they put out those numbers, and it’s the same with the UFC, but Bellator takes care of us. I’ve never been happier.
” I love the atmosphere over there. They are great people. I know them well since 2017. I can’t say enough good things about them. I don’t regret coming to .”