He joined the mixed martial arts training organization Arizona Combat Sports in early 2007. On March 31, 2007, he defeated Dave Covello via submission (punches) at the Reno Combats: Inferno 2 event. He then went on to clinch six more wins prior to his stint with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
His debut in UFC happened as one of the contestants of ;The Ultimate Fighter: Team Nogueira vs Team Mir' from the American reality TV series and MMA contest ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ produced by UFC and Fox Sports 1. The contestants of the competition fight against each other to earn a UFC contract.
Coach Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira selected him and he was successful in winning three fights to reach The Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale where he faced Vinicius Magalhães. The finale fight that took place on December 13, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada, US saw him beating Magalhães via TKO (punches) to win The Ultimate Fighter 8 Light Heavyweight Tournament and thus winning the UFC contract.
On April 1, 2009, he was pitted against Carmelo Marrero at UFC Fight Night 18. Bader won the fight by unanimous decision while tearing the posterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament of Marrero which kept the latter out of the fighting scene till the next fall.
He then featured in the sixth video game of UFC titled ‘UFC 2009 Undisputed’ along with Ultimate Fighter 8 winner Efrain Escudero that was released in the US on May 19, 2009.
Thereafter, he went on to defeat Eric Schafer at UFC 104 on October 24, 2009; Keith Jardine at UFC 110 on February 21, 2010; and Antônio Rogério Nogueira at UFC 119 on September 25, 2010.
Meanwhile, Bader along with Aaron Simpson, CB Dollaway, Eric Larkin and Jesse Forbes left the Tempe, Arizona based MMA training organization ‘Arizona Combat Sports’ and joined the gym ‘Power MMA And Fitness’, opened by them in 2010.
Bader tasted his first MMA loss at the UFC 126 event against Jon Jones on February 5, 2011 when the latter beat him via submission (guillotine choke). This was followed by another loss against Tito Ortiz at the UFC 132 event on July 2, 2011.
He won his next two UFC fights against Jason Brilz at UFC 139 on November 19, 2011 and against Quinton Jackson at UFC 144 on February 26, 2012, but he lost to Lyoto Machida at UFC on Fox: Shogun vs. Vera on August 4, 2012.
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One of his notable fights was with former title challenger Vladimir Matyushenko at UFC on Fox 6 held on January 26, 2013. He won the bout in just 50 seconds of the first round through a guillotine choke submission marking the fastest UFC Light Heavyweight submission fetching him his first ‘Submission of the Night’ bonus award.
His next fight was scheduled against Glover Teixeira at UFC 160 on May 25, 2013. Teixeira finally faced James Te-Huna when Bader cited an injury and withdrew from the fight. Later Bader faced Teixeira in the main event at UFC Fight Night 28 held on September 4, 2013, however lost the bout in the first round via TKO (punches).
The bout between Bader and Anthony Perosh at UFC Fight Night 33 held on December 7, 2013 saw Bader dominating the fight in all its three rounds and emerging winner through a unanimous decision.
He went on to win his next two bouts via unanimous decision against Rafael Cavalcante at UFC 174 on June 14, 2014 and against Ovince Saint Preux at UFC Fight Night: Bader vs. Saint Preux on August 16, 2014.
He started the following year with a win against Phil Davis at UFC on Fox 14 held on January 24, 2015. The win came through split decision. The other UFC bout he faced that year was against Rashad Evans at UFC 192 held on October 3 which ended in a win for Bader via unanimous decision.
The main event at UFC on Fox 18 held on January 30, 2016, saw Bader losing against Anthony Johnson via knockout (punches) in the first round.
On September 3, 2016 he faced Ilir Latifi at UFC Fight Night 93. The bout saw him winning via knockout (knee) in the second round. It also earned him his first ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus award.
A re-match with Antônio Rogério Nogueira held on November 19, 2016 in the main event at UFC Fight Night 100 saw Bader winning the bout via TKO (punches) in the third round. The fight marked his last bout on his UFC contract following which he became a free agent.
On March 21, 2017 he declared that he had signed a six-fight deal with American MMA promotion company Bellator MMA. On June 24, 2017, he faced Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Phil Davis at Bellator 180. Bader won the match via split decision thus emerging as the new Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion.
He is expected to face his first title defence against Linton Vassell at Bellator 186 scheduled to be held on November 3, 2017.