After winning his fifth fight in a row on Saturday night at UFC 192, Ryan Bader didn't use his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan to call out whoever was holding the light heavyweight title next.
In fact, he wished his mother a Happy Birthday, and left it at that.
Yet after scoring an impressive decision over former champion Rashad Evans in Houston, Bader firmly established himself as the top contender in the division. Later on, in the main event, Daniel Cormier — who Bader was supposed to fight earlier this year in New Orleans —defended his title against Alexander Gustafsson with a split decision.
Bader is aware of the situation with erstwhile champion, Jon Jones, who is now eligible for a return to the cage after going through his legal problems for fleeing an accident in April. Given that Jones could be next in line for Cormier, Bader said at the post-fight press conference that he was focusing on Evans only, and that he was happy with his performance.
"Yeah, feeling good," he said. "I finally went out there and finally just felt like the fighter I know I can be. I felt quick, I felt fast with the jab and I hit him with some good shots. You know, Rashad's a veteran of this sport and to take somebody out like that, that's what I need. To make it five wins in a row with a name like that as a little bookend. We'll see where it goes from here.
"Obviously, I do want a title shot. You know, we've got Jon Jones back in the picture. So for me, I'm going to control the things I can control and that was the fight in front of me, that was Rashad. We'll just see what happens."
The 32-year old Bader, who trains at Power MMA in Arizona, has now won five consecutive fights going back to a 2013 loss to Glover Teixeira. After his June fight with Cormier was called off so Cormier could fill in for Jon Jones against Anthony Johnson at UFC 187, Bader made a case to face Cormier next. The UFC opted for Gustafsson instead.
Now the picture is complicated with the big rematch looming between Jones and Cormier.
Asked if he would accept another fight if need be before he gets his title shot, Bader said he would. And he said he wouldn't mind drawing the last guy to defeat him, in that case.
"Yeah of course, you know, I'm here to fight," he said. "If Jon Jones comes back and he's fighting Cormier, I have some people on my mind that I'd like to fight. I'd like to get my last loss back with Glover [Teixeira] if he gets through Pat. So that's one fight I'd like to get back. Other than than, obviously I'd want a title shot, and I'd want Cormier, but we'll see what happens though with the whole Jon Jones situation."
Teixeira is slated to face Patrick Cummins next at UFC Fight Night 77 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Nov. 7.