Ryan Bader, former UFC light heavyweight champion and current Bellator heavyweight champion, recently expressed his displeasure with the disclosed pay for Bellator 290.
At Bellator 290 over the weekend, "Darth" came back against Fedor Emelianenko. The fight was a replay of their previous encounter in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix final. During that contest from January 2019, Bader prevailed through a first-round knockout.
The outcome was identical more than four years later, with the Russian losing by first-round knockout once more. Emelianenko quit after the loss, ending with one of the finest MMA careers in the 20th century. Fans were perplexed when payments were announced because of that success which has sparked a heated debate among fans and industry insiders alike.
The issue of fighter pay has been a long-standing one in MMA, with many fighters struggling to make ends meet despite the rapidly growing popularity of the sport. This is due in part to the limited revenue streams available to fighters, with the majority of their income coming from their fight purses. Given that the two were fighting for the heavyweight championship, the numbers seemed a bit low.
Fortunately, fans don't have to worry about Ryan Bader's salary. The Bellator heavyweight champion with Ariel Helwani recently appeared on The MMA Hour, where they talked about his income. He stated clearly that he received a significant amount of money than was disclosed here anyway.
“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. I wouldn’t be fighting if I was making that.
“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.”
Bader feels certain that switching to Bellator when he did because he is now much more stable financially. Bader witnessed two very different perspectives of the fighter pay debate between the UFC and Bellator.
“Oh yeah, like eight, nine times more [than the UFC paid me],” Bader explained. “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 vibe over there. The people there, I’ve gotten to know them since 2017 and I have nothing but great things to say about them since and I never regretted it one time coming over.”