Ryan Bader isn’t willing to vacate his Bellator Heavyweight Championship as he prepares to enter the promotion’s light heavyweight tournament.
Bader has been one of the pound-for-pound best fighters in Bellator for a few years now and while he may be moving into the twilight of his career, it definitely feels like he has the chance to cause some real damage in the aforementioned tournament.
The first fight for Bader will come against Lyoto Machida tomorrow night, with his hope being to get back to a title shot – likely against Vadim Nemkov who beat him for the Bellator light heavyweight title last August.
However, many have questioned whether Bader would return to heavyweight in order to defend his title with his last bout at the weight class coming in September 2019. Now, in a recent interview with MMA Junkie, Bader has given his thoughts on the situation.
“I’m not giving it up. No. 1, because I fought there,” Bader said. “Bellator came to me and asked me if I wanted to do this tournament. They said I could keep this belt. Maybe an interim belt going (forward)? But that’s up to Tim Johnson. He’s the No. 1 contender. I know we agreed on this fight, and he’s been looking great and (has) three (straight) wins.
“It’s just one of those things. Does he want to fight for an interim belt? Then we can unify it? Or does he want to wait for the actual title shot? That’s always a gamble, too. At the end of the day, I want to be active,” Bader added. “Barring any injuries, if I got out there and win this tournament, I’ll be ready a couple of months after those finals. It’s really kind of up to Bellator and up to him.”
Quotes courtesy of MMA Junkie
Will Ryan Bader return to heavyweight to defend the title? Let us know your thoughts, BJPENN Nation!