Manager: Bader respects ‘Rumble’ Johnson but sights set on Cormier
Ryan Bader and his management team fully understand why Anthony Johnson is gunning for a fight with him, but until the UFC says otherwise, the only matchup they are interested in is a title shot against current light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier.
Johnson took to Facebook last week to ask for the fight with Bader following a statement from his manager Glenn Robinson to "UFC Tonight" just days prior to his social medial post.
Bader hasn’t responded because the No. 3-ranked fighter is on vacation with his family, but his manager David Martin spoke to FOX Sports on Monday to explain why they have nothing but respect for Johnson but the fight they want is the one with Cormier.
"We have the utmost respect for Anthony Johnson. We think he’s a tremendous talent and he’s got good representation. If I was advising Anthony, I’d be telling him to do the exact same thing — call out Ryan Bader. Why? Because that’s your fastest track to getting a title shot and that’s what these guys are in this sport for to be champion, and title shots don’t grow on trees," Martin said.
"That’s why Ryan wants Daniel Cormier, and our sights are set on nothing but Daniel Cormier. There’s still a big unknown out there with Jon Jones, but as we sit here and talk today, he’s still suspended by the UFC. Until that changes, Ryan’s sights are on Daniel Cormier."
Jones was suspended earlier this year after being arrested on hit-and-run charges stemming from an accident that took place in New Mexico in April.
Jones ultimately pled guilty to a lesser count and was sentenced to 18 months’ probation by the courts, but faced no jail time as a result of the infraction. Since that time, Jones has started to become more active again on social media, but the UFC has yet to lift his indefinite suspension or make any indication on when he might return to action.
Until the time that Jones is reinstated and officially offered a title shot, Bader is holding out hope that he could still land the fight most believe he already earned with a victory over Phil Davis this past January.
Bader had a four-fight win streak when the UFC opted to give the title shot to Alexander Gustafsson instead, and the former "Ultimate Fighter" winner then went on to defeat former champion Rashad Evans at UFC 192.
With five wins in a row, Bader believes he’s done everything necessary to get his crack at Cormier and the title and as long as there’s hope that it could still happen, he’s not looking at any other potential opponents.
"(Bader) was worthy enough to fight Daniel in June in New Orleans, and we also accepted to fight him once before that. Let’s make it happen," Martin said. "That’s the fight that he wants and that’s the fight he deserves.
"At some point, I do think Anthony and Ryan’s paths will cross, but right now it doesn’t make sense."
Cormier is currently enjoying some down time after a very busy 2015 but the UFC hasn’t made any official decisions yet regarding his next title fight. If Jones returns, it’s almost guaranteed that he will face Cormier next, but as of now he’s still under suspension and Bader is the No. 1 contender at 205 pounds.