Tonight’s Bellator 280 event is headlined by a heavyweight title fight rematch between Ryan Bader and Cheick Kongo.
Bader (30-7 MMA) and Kongo (31-12-2 MMA) first met at Bellator 226 in September of 2019, with the bout ending in a no-contest due to an accidental eye poke.
Since then Ryan Bader has gone 2-2, with both of his losses coming at light heavyweight. ‘Darth’ most recently competed at January’s Bellator 273 event, where he successfully unified the Bellator heavyweight championship by defeating Valentin Moldavsky.
Meanwhile, Cheick Kongo has gone 1-1 since his first encounter with Bader. The Frenchman most recently competed at Bellator 265 in August of 2021, where he submitted fellow MMMA veteran Sergei Kharitonov.
Round one of the Bellator 280 main event begins and Ryan Bader comes forward with early pressure. The French crowd begins to chant “Kongo”. Bader leaps in with a good right and then drops for a takedown. Cheick Kongo is doing a good job of defending thus far but ‘Darth’ remains determined to get the fight to the canvas. He does, but only for a moment. Kongo is back to his feet but Bader is now on his back. He throws some knees to the back of Kongo’s thighs. Cheick switches the position and then a knee from Bader lands to his groin. We have a brief break and the restart. Ryan Bader immediately shoots in for another takedown attempt. He gets it and begins to lands some knees. Kongo has one knee on the ground but is working his way back up. He gets to his feet but Bader scrambles to his back and drags him back down. More knees to the thighs by ‘Darth’. Just over thirty seconds remain in the opening round. The crowd is growing restless. Kongo attempts to scramble back to his feet but opts to land some elbows before the horn sounds.
Round two of the Bellator 280 main event begins and Ryan Bader comes forward with early pressure. Kongo is backed up against the cage but lands a good combination. Bader attempts a takedown but eats a big uppercut. That appeared to stun the champ. ‘Darth’ immediately shoots in for another takedown attempt and this time he gets it. Cheick Kongo is already working his way back to his feet but he is giving up his back in the process. Bader is beginning to land some short shots but nothing significant. The crowd is starting to deliver heavy boos as the action is minimal. Bader continues to work some knees to the thighs. Kongo finally gets back to his feet and lands an uppercut as the horn sounds to end round two.
Back and forth between @ryanbader and @kongo4real.#Bellator280 LIVE on @SHOsports pic.twitter.com/8keoZ5GaNz
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) May 6, 2022
Round three of the Bellator 280 headliner begins and Cheick Kongo comes forward with a knee to the body. However, he immediately moves to his backfoot and within seconds Ryan Bader has him pressed back up against the cage. ‘Darth’ with a big double leg takedown. Kongo quickly gets back to his feet but Bader just drags him right back down to the canvas. Another scramble and this time the Frenchman is back up and is able to separate. He has one minute to work here. Kongo with a nice right hand over the top. He follows that up with a heavy low kick and then another. Bader shoots in and presses him up against the cage. The horn sounds to end round three.
The champ @ryanbader grinding against @kongo4real.#Bellator280 LIVE on @SHOsports pic.twitter.com/CwzpwNR2Db
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) May 6, 2022
Round four of the Bellator 280 main event begins and Ryan Bader comes forward quickly. Cheick Kongo attempts to keep him at bay with some low kicks but ‘Darth’ eventually closes the distance and scores a takedown. Bader is not doing much in these positions aside from controlling Kongo’s body posture. The Frenchman finally works his way back to his feet, but is immediately dragged back down to the ground. Kongo lands some elbows from off his back while Bader tries to get some punches in. The horn sounds to end round four.
Round five of the Bellator 280 headliner begins and Cheick Kongo attempts to take the center of the cage. He throws out a jab and Bader just ducks under the strike and proceeds to land a big double leg takedown. Terrible starting position for the Frenchman. Bader just continues to lean on him. The crowd boos in frustration. Kongo is able to scramble back to his feet but Bader quickly trips him back down to the floor. ‘Darth’ with some shots to the body. The referee steps in and decides to stand them up. Cheick Kongo immediately charges forward with a big flurry. Bader retreats but then shoots in and begins working on another takedown attempt. Knees from Bader as the horn sounds to end the fight.
Official Bellator 280 Result: Ryan Bader def. Cheick Kongo by unanimous decision (50-45 x3)
Who would you like to see Bader fight next following his victory over Kongo at today’s event in Paris?