Ryan Bader



Retains title with ease
May 10, 2022
Bader defeated Cheick Kongo via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) at Bellator 280 on May 6 in Paris.
It was a vintage performance from Bader, who entered as a massive betting favorite against the 46-year-old Kongo. The two had unfinished business from a September 2019 bout that ended in a no-contest due to an eye poke, but there was no uncertainty with who the winner here was. Bader used striking to set up his wrestling, recording a takedown and heavy control time in just about every round. As shown by the scorecards, he didn't lose a round in the eyes of any judges. According to MMAJunkie.com, Bader wasn't particularly happy with what wasn't an aesthetically-pleasing performance, which he attributed to both Kongo's length and the fact he was experiencing an upset stomach before the fight. As for what's next, Bader called for a matchup against surging heavyweight Linton Vassell after the fight.
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Regains belt at Bellator 273
January 31, 2022
Bader defeated Valentin Moldavsky via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47) at Bellator 273 on Saturday in Phoenix.
Bader fell short last October in a matchup against Corey Anderson in the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix, which would have given him a chance to eventually regain the 205-pound strap he lost to Vadim Nemkov in 2020. Now 38 years old, Bader intends to fight exclusively at heavyweight moving forward, which is the weight class where he won the Grand Prix in 2018 by defeating Fedor Emelianenko in the final. Bellator since decided to create an interim heavyweight belt during Bader's time at 205, and this was Bader's bid to win it back. He did so by out-working Moldavsky over the course of 25 minutes, mixed with a few power shots that hit their mark. It's encouraging to see Bader get the victory with his hands even on a night where his wrestling wasn't particularly effective. Now the champion, Bader is currently lined up for a rematch with Cheick Kongo this spring in Paris. The two fought to a no-contest back in 2019 when an accidental eye poke from Bader forced the stoppage, with Bader ultimately retaining the belt.
Bounces back with win over Machida
April 12, 2021
Bader defeated Lyoto Machida via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-45, 49-45) at Bellator 256 on Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.
Bader had to power through a difficult first round in which Machida landed several hard body kicks, but it was all uphill from there for the former Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion. The veteran and former top UFC contender leaned on his wrestling the rest of the way out, successfully scoring takedowns in each subsequent round on the 42-year-old Machida. From there, Bader did a number on Machida's face by way of heavy ground-and-pound, leaving no doubt who won this fight in the eyes of the judges. While Bader lost his 205-pound belt to Vadim Nemkov in his last fight back in August, his quest to regain the belt started Friday. He'll advance in the light heavyweight grand prix to take on the winner of Corey Anderson and Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov, with the possibility of a rematch against Nemkov awaiting if Bader can make it to the finals.
First loss in four years
August 23, 2020
Bader lost his Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship belt to Vadim Nemkov after he was defeated via TKO (head kick and punches) at 3:02 of Round 2 at Bellator 244 on Friday.
Bader came out and had a competitive first round, as he was able to execute a takedown (albeit briefly) and connect in the striking game towards the end of the frame. It all started going downhill in Round 2, however, as Nemkov started to get a feel for his range, first landing a high kick that floored Bader. The champion showed extreme toughness to survive and get briefly back to his feet, but Nemkov was far from finished. He sent Bader back to the canvas, this time with his fists, and the show was over shortly afterwards. Referee Kerry Hatley gave Bader more than enough time to hang on and survive, but it was clear he couldn't let this go on much longer. Bader was effectively dealt his first loss since January of 2016, when he was knockout out in the UFC Octagon by Anthony "Rumble" Johnson. He still owns Bellator's heavyweight belt, but it would be a surprise for Bader to seek anything other than an immediate rematch here.
To defend LHW belt
July 30, 2020
Bader will defend his Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship against Vadim Nemkov at Bellator 244 on August 21, Brett Okamoto of ESPN reports.
This was a matchup originally scheduled for May 9, but like all Bellator events for several months, it was postponed due to the pandemic. Now, Bader has a time and place for his first fight at 205 pounds since he defended his belt against Linton Vassell all the way back in November of 2017. Since then, Bader has been focused on winning the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix and defending his belt in that division. Meanwhile, Nemkov has built a six-fight winning streak against the top light heavyweights Bellator has to offer. Nonetheless, Bader was approximately a (-175) betting favorite the first time around, and not much has changed since.
Bellator 242 postponed
March 30, 2020
Bader will no longer defend his light heavyweight title at Bellator 242 in San Jose after the promotion postponed the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ariel Helwani of ESPN reports.
Bader had been listed as a (-175) betting favorite for his first fight at 205 pounds since 2017, prior to the start of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix. The current two-division champion will hold that title indefinitely, with Bellator cancelling all three of its events that had been scheduled for the month of May.