Ryan Bader was in attendance at Bellator 208 in order to find out who he will be facing in the Heavyweight Grand Prix Final. The light heavyweight champion spoke to media following the event.
Uniondale, NY – Just a day after he punched his ticket to the tournament finals, Ryan Bader went down to Long Island to take in the action from the other side of the bracket at Bellator 208. With Fedor Emelianenko winning by first-round TKO, his next fight is set for January 26 in Los Angeles.
Bader had a close view of his next opponent’s wild fight, looking for anything he can take advantage of come 2019. While Chael Sonnen did have his moments, Bader wanted more that he could break down.
“Fedor looked impressive. He went out there and got at it. Chael Sonnen got in his face right away, putting the pressure on him and Fedor was throwing back hard. He was throwing those three, four, five punch combos. As the fight went on, I wish we got to see a second round. I thought it would start to turn a little bit in Chael’s favor if it got to that second round. Start coming out and being a little more patient. Overall, Fedor looked impressive. I’m excited, I’m ready, that got me going.”
With Fedor seemingly in the twilight of his career, “The Last Emperor’s” approach could be a sort of mystery. His demeanor leads to an aura of invincibility in the cage. But Bader knows the man can be beat.
“You never know what you’re gonna get with Fedor. You don’t know any of his emotions. Watching this fight, he was the unknown. What’s he like on the ground? How’s his cardio? We didn’t see much in that first fight [vs. Frank Mir]. We ended up seeing one round and that’s why I said that I’d like to see it go to a second round. There are definitely things that I saw that I could exploit and use and whatnot. Overall, a very good performance by Fedor.”
One technique in particular that was displayed by Chael Sonnen gave Bader plenty of confidence.
“Chael took him down with a single leg, a low low single. So there’s a balance thing there. But what’s crazy is that Fedor showed incredible balance in certain positions, then got taken down by a low single. My shot is a little different than Chael’s. I either blow you off your feet, or I don’t get it and try to stay in a good position. I never like to be anywhere with my knees on the mat at all. They were both kind of getting tired there because of the frantic pace.”
After the fight, Bader stepped into the cage and engaged in a staredown with the consensus greatest heavyweight ever. However, Bader has fought legends in the past, and intimidation did not creep into his mind.
“It was surreal but also not. I’ve been in there with guys like that before, guys I idolized coming up that I ended up across the cage from. No different with Fedor. When you get an opponent you know it’s just a man, a name and they’re just in your way.”
When asked about Fedor’s ability to connect clean in wild fights, Bader made it known that he will avoid that type of battle.
“That was a good reminder there. Chael coming in there and getting right in his face, then getting caught in the buzzsaw right away. That’s Fedor’s MO, you come in and he’s gonna throw three punches at least from weird angles. Can you beat him to that punch when he has his hands down? Yeah. Do you want to play that game all the time, though? Probably not. You gotta be patient.”
Ryan Bader will fight Fedor Emelianenko for the Bellator heavyweight title on January 26 at The Forum in Los Angeles, California.