With Ryan Bader’s reign as light heavyweight champion coming to an end in August, the former dual-champion has nowhere else to go but back up to the heavyweight division, to defend the last piece of Bellator gold he has. And in my mind, there is one Russian mountain the American has to traverse to get a true stranglehold on the division. It’s a fight demand for Bellator that better happen in 2021.
At 37-years-old, Ryan Bader is a good light heavyweight, but better heavyweight. In August, his trip to the Vadim Nemkov woodshed showed he starting to age out of the 205-pound However, his absolute dominance over the field in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix proved “Darth” is a terror when not having to cut weight. That said, his most formidable heavyweight test on paper was an eye-poke shortened bout with Cheick Kongo in 2019. No disrespect to his wins over Muhammed Lawal (far from his best version), Fedor Emelianenko (even farther from his best version), and Matt Mitrione (still wrestling deficient), but those men are not the best Bellator has to offer.
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