Bellator heavyweight champion Ryan Bader will not be stripped of his title, according to Bellator president Scott Coker at Tuesday’s presser.
The promotion officially announced the eight-man, Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix tournament. In one of the quarterfinal matchups, Bader takes on Lyoto Machida in a rematch. On paper, that’s a fun fight and having Bader included in the tournament is a good thing. However, while he competes to win back his old light heavyweight title in the bracket, Bader is temporarily holding up heavyweight. He’s still the champion and has no plans to give up his belt.
Speaking to the media following the press conference, Bader said that his goal is to become a two-division champion for Bellator once again.
“I’m going to keep (the heavyweight belt). It’s one of those things where Bellator wanted me to come down to the 205-pound division. I was ready to fight for the heavyweight belt in early March but this thing was getting put together. They’re moving to Showtime and this thing is huge. So my plan is to go in there, win this thing, and get right back to heavyweight, and that’s the plan right now,” Bader said (h/t MMAFighting.com).
According to Coker, Bellator has no immediate plans to strip Bader of the heavyweight title. However, an interim title could be in play at some point.
“We’re going to wait to see how he does on (April 9), and then if he wins and he’s going to continue on into the tournament, we might consider having an interim belt. We’re going to wait to see how the 9th goes first. If he does (move on), we can’t just leave that heavyweight division out there like that, so we’re going to give other fighters opportunities. But for right now, because the fight is a couple of months away, we’re going to see how it goes for Bader, and then we’ll decide what to do from there,” Coker said.
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