HOBOKEN, N.J. — Ryan Bader isn’t sure exactly what it will ever take to get his shot at the UFC light heavyweight championship, but he’s ready to stop worrying about it either way.
“You’re never guaranteed anything,” Bader said Thursday at open workouts for Saturday’s UFC on FOX 18 event at the Prudential Center in Newark. “There’s too many variables out there.”
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Despite a five-fight win streak in which he hasn’t faced much of a challenge, Bader (20-4) has yet to be awarded a chance at winning gold. A matchup with former title challenger and No. 2-ranked Anthony Johnson on Saturday is Bader’s best chance yet to prove his point, but he won’t get his hopes up anymore.
“For me, it’s out of my mind,” Bader said. “If I go out there and do my job and what I can do, if it happens that I get the next title shot, it’s just icing on the cake. But let’s take care of the job in front of me, it’s all I’m worried about now.”
Bader’s frustration mostly stems from the sequence of events following the UFC stripping Jon Jones of his belt last year. Bader was slated to face Daniel Cormier in June 2015, but the fight was scrapped when Cormier replaced Jones against Johnson for the vacant title at UFC 187.
“I went through it last summer with having a fight with Cormier, him getting bumped up to fight Anthony Johnson, him winning the title, then I didn’t have a fight,” Bader said.
For Cormier’s first title defense, Bader again was passed by, this time for Alexander Gustafsson, who was coming off a knockout loss to Johnson.
“The one that got me was the Gustafsson one. I think even he was surprised getting it off a knockout loss,” Bader said. “The way I look at it, win-or-lose I can get a title shot with how 205-pound division has been going.”
Cormier is slated to defend his title against Jones. Although no date has been set, that fight could happen as early as April.
After falling in his first attempt at taking gold in May, followed by a knockout of Jimi Manuwa in October, Johnson might be next in line once again with a win over Bader.
Like Bader, however, “Rumble” isn’t worrying about something he can’t control.
“I haven’t thought about it at all,” Johnson said. “There’s been so much talk about the title shot for Bader, it hasn’t crossed my mind what’s next for me. I’m just here to fight.”