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Free agent Ryan Bader wants to stay in the UFC, but it has to make sense

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Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Ryan Bader entered free agency with back-to-back TKO victories, and now he has some decisions to make.

Two months after stopping Ilir Latifi in Germany, Bader flew to Brazil to headline UFC Fight Night 100 in a rematch with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and it didn’t go the distance this time. Bader, who beat "Minotouro" by decision in 2010, scored a third-round finish at the Ibirapuera gymnasium in Sao Paulo.

"Nogueira is always tough. I was surprised how tough he was again," Bader said at the post-fight press conference. "The first round, I hit him with some hard shots. One thing I learned in my career is to be patient. Last time in Brazil I wasn’t patient, and I paid for it, so I picked my shots. I started to feel better in the third than I did in the first. I wasn’t rushing anything."

Bader improved to 7-1 in his last eight fights inside the Octagon, and wrestling was the key for him to beat the Brazilian veteran.

"For me, it would be awesome to get that highlight reel knockout, but you’re fighting a tough guy who’s been around forever, that’s scrappy and knows what he’s going," Bader said, "so for me I was kind of, I’m just going to take what I can get in that fight, and I secured that first takedown. I felt (I got it) pretty easily, so I went back to it. You never know what’s gonna happen. I took what he gave me knowing I’d pick my shots and eventually finish that fight, so it just happened to be in the third."

Ahead of his second main event in Brazil, Bader turned down an offer from the UFC and fought the last bout of his contract against Nogueira. It played out perfect for him, who entered free agency backed by a pair of finishes.

Bader wants to stay in the UFC, but it has to make sense.

"I got the Lil’ Nog fight and now here we are," Bader said. "Look, I love the UFC and I love fighting in the UFC. Gotta make sense, though. I’ve been a top 5 for a while, and I want big fights. There’s a big fight coming up in December, so we’ll talk with them and see where we go from here."

UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier is slated to defend his belt against Anthony Johnson at UFC 206 on Dec. 10, and Bader looked open to flying to Canada to watch the bout cageside.

"Perhaps," he said with a smile. "It would be fun."