Ryan Bader on Bellator heavyweight title, Grand Prix finals opponent

Jan 26, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Ryan Bader (blue gloves) defeats Fedor Emelianenko (red gloves) during Bellator 214 at The Forum. Mandatory Credit: Dave Mandel-USA TODAY Sports

At Bellator 256 former light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader, who is also the current Bellator MMA heavyweight champion, advanced in the World Grand Prix tournament with a dominant victory over Lyoto Machida. Following the event, Bellator President Scott Coker revealed to the media that there is likely an interim heavyweight title fight to be made since Bader will continue on to compete in the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix.

Ryan Bader: Wants to stay active across both divisions

With news of an interim heavyweight title fight coming up, Bader was asked his thoughts on the decision to make an interim heavyweight title, and his main viewpoint was no matter what has happened in either division, he wanted to stay active. During a recent appearance on ‘Inside The Cage’ with Jimmy Smith on Sirius XM’s Fight Nation, Bader discussed the difficulty in defending both belts and how being active in both divisions came about.

“When they [Bellator] asked us to come up to the heavyweight Grand Prix, we were like ‘well we already have the light heavyweight belt’ and they said don’t worry about that, you can keep that and I end up winning the heavyweight belt, too. I thought I was fighting for the belt in March with Tim Johnson but then they asked me to come down to the light heavyweight tournament because it was that much bigger. It is what it is, I’m just kind of doing what Bellator is asking of me. I don’t want to hold up divisions but, we told them, ‘yeah we want to do this light heavyweight tournament but we’d rather keep our heavyweight belt so we’ll fight and defend that.’ They said ‘no, you’ll keep it, there might be some stuff down the road like an interim [belt] or whatever, but you’re going to have it.”

A potential Grand Prix finals matchup

Ryan Bader interview
Jan 26, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Ryan Bader (blue gloves) defeats Fedor Emelianenko (red gloves) during Bellator 214 at The Forum. Mandatory Credit: Dave Mandel-USA TODAY Sports

With his victory against Machida advancing him to the semi-finals in the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix, Bader was asked about who he’d like to face if he was to make it to the finals and offered up two names, including a former UFC opponent. While Ryan Bader did lose the belt to Vadim Nemkov, he said he wouldn’t be disappointed if he met someone else in the finals.

Yes, I want to get it back vs Nemkov, I want to show that wasn’t me in there in that fight. But you know, I have redemption on a couple of people in there. Anthony Johnson, I would love to do the same with that one. Those two guys I’m looking at. I’ve fought Phil [Davis] twice and beat Phil twice. The two guys I’m looking that I’m looking to be in the finals with, and want to make it, would either be Anthony Johnson or [Vadim] Nemkov for sure.

The Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix will continue this weekend with two matchups at Bellator 257, including the current champion Nemkov taking on Phil Davis in a rematch from 2018. Ryan Bader has his ideal list of finals opponents, but how do you think the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix will play out?

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