Ryan Bader eyes light heavyweight title defense against Lyoto Machida if Vadim Nemkov can’t get into the States

Ryan Bader
Image: Bellator on Instagram

Ryan Bader was expected to defend his light heavyweight title on May 9 against Russian contender, Vadim Nemkov. Yet, the event was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic leaving Bader uncertain when he’ll defend his 205-pound strap next.

Bader, who has not fought since September against Cheick Kongo in a controversial no-contest, is eager to get back in the cage.

Now, he hopes he can fight sometime in the summer, this once Bellator can put on events again.

“I was trying to fight early in the year. It got scheduled for May and when you finally get scheduled it’s time to rock and roll,” Bader said to BJPENN.com. “This pandemic threw a wrench into things. But, if they get everything back up and running June or July let’s get going and start getting these fights going.”

Assuming Bellator can hold events again in June or July, Bader says he hopes he will be able to fight Nemkov at light heavyweight. But, given Nemkov is in Russia, if he can’t get into the United States, the champ-champ already has another name in mind.

“We have to do a 205 fight, it’s been too long since that belt was defended,” he explained. “Give me Lyoto Machida and let’s making something happen. We have to defend 205 then I’ll go back up and defend at heavyweight.”

Why Ryan Bader wants to defend his belt against Machida is simple. The two fought back in 2012 in the UFC, where it was Machida who won by knockout. So, the American wants to avenge the loss and do so by defending his belt.

“Any loss you have, you want to get it back. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing back then. I had no steps, no jab no nothin,” he said. “For me, it’s a marker to see how far I’ve come to avenge a loss. It’s a big fight and a big name guy.”

In the end, Ryan Bader makes it clear his top priority is defending his belt against Vadim Nemkov very soon. He knows how dangerous the Russian is and wants to test himself against him. But, he has told Bellator, Machida would be his second option if the Nemkov fight can’t happen.

“I only have one guy to compare him to and that is Phil Davis. I study that fight because I’ve fought Phil and you can tell how tough he is,” Bader concluded. “He comes out hot, good leg kicks good punching power. But, you see things where I can exploit Nemkov. He’s a legit challenger because he brings it every time. Hopefully, we can make this fight happen, if not Machida it is.”

Would you be interested in seeing Ryan Bader defend his light heavyweight belt against Lyoto Machida?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 5/8/2020.