Ryan Bader joins Team Chandler on Season 31 of The Ultimate Fighter

Bellator's heavyweight champion will coach alongside Michael Chandler on the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter

Ryan Bader
Courtesy of @ryanbader on Instagram / @UFC on Twitter

Ryan Bader, the current Bellator Heavyweight Champion, is set to make a return to The Ultimate Fighter (TUF 31) as one of the coaches for this year’s edition of the popular reality series. Bader will be joining a group of esteemed coaches in the hopes of helping UFC lightweight contender Michael Chandler achieve victory in the competition.

As one of the most accomplished fighters in the sport, Ryan Bader brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table.

Bader, who won season eight of the competition, will be part of ‘Iron’ Michael Chandler’s coaching staff. Earlier this year, UFC president Dana White announced that Chandler would coach opposite ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor before the pair square off inside the Octagon this fall. Chandler’s coaching staff was revealed in an Instagram post confirming that the former Bellator two-division titleholder would be joining a star-studded lineup including Kill Cliff FC wrestling coach Greg Jones, boxing coach Jason Strout, and former ADCC world champion Robert Drysdale. 


Filming has already begun on the latest season of the series with both Michael Chandler and Conor McGregor commenting on the process. Chandler shared a positive review of his first day on Twitter, saying things “couldn’t have gone better.” McGregor on the other hand was busy defending himself online after it was reported that the Irish superstar had forced out previously cast fighters in favor of his friends. 

Ryan Bader Found the Success in Bellator That He Couldn’t Fully Harness in the UFC

Ryan Bader first rose to prominence in the world of mixed martial arts after running through the competition on The Ultimate Fighter in 2008. ‘Darth’ secured victories over Tom Lawlor and Eliot Marshall before delivering a first-round knockout against Vinny Magalhaes in the live finale. Bader went on to win another four-straight on his way to a title eliminator with Jon Jones at UFC 126. Despite his impressive 15-5 record inside the Octagon, Bader never secured himself a title opportunity leading him to walk away from the promotion in 2017.

Signing with Bellator shortly after, ‘Darth’ immediately found success, capturing the promotion’s light heavyweight championship in his first appearance. A year later, Bader decided to try his hand in the heavyweight division, entering the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament. Bader secured a spot in the Grand Prix final with wins over Muhammed Lawal and Matt Mitrione.

At Bellator 214, Ryan Bader met heavyweight icon Fedor Emelianenko in the tournament final with the vacant Bellator heavyweight title up for grabs. It only took 0:35 seconds for ‘Darth’ to dispatch the Russian superstar to become a two-division champion. Currently, Bader still reigns as Bellator’s heavyweight king and delivered another first-round knockout against Emelianenko in their long-awaited rematch at Bellator 290 earlier this month. 

Bader’s participation in The Ultimate Fighter comes as exciting news for both MMA fans and competitors. His presence on the show is sure to bring a high level of intensity and energy, and he will undoubtedly be a valuable asset to the team of coaches.

Published on February 20, 2023 at 3:31 pm
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