Bellator 214: Ryan Bader Sees Fighting Fedor As the “Cherry On Top” After His Latest Run

Winning the light heavyweight title, dominating in the World Heavyweight Grand Prix — now it’s Fedor Emelianenko for Ryan Bader, who sees ‘The Last Emperor’ as the cherry on top of a great run in Bellator.

Los Angeles, CA — Ryan Bader has the chance to become the next ‘Champ Champ’ in MMA. And the first one in Bellator. The opportunity will come in the main event of this weekend’s Bellator 214. There, Bader will seek to dethrone ‘The Last Emperor,’ Fedor Emelianenko in the finale of Bellator’s World Heavyweight Grand Prix.

It’s a storybook final, to be sure. Fedor remains a legend from the Pride era, even though later results in North America were mixed at best. Still, Fedor has won seven of his last eight fights.

“Looking back on my career, I fought a lot of top guys. Who’s who of MMA. He’s always one guy that I thought I would never have even a chance to at least stand across the cage with,” Bader admitted Wednesday at the Bellator 214 open workouts, where Cageside Press was in attendance. “He was in Pride at the time, way over there. I was in the UFC. Age difference a little bit. But then when the tournament started to fill out and I saw that name, out of pure respect I’m like ‘man, wouldn’t it be cool, [if] I make it to the finals and get to fight one of the guys that I came up idolizing and watching. And here we are, man.”

After winning Bellator’s light heavyweight title, then defeating King Mo and Matt Mitrione in the Grand Prix, for Bader, “being in the finals against Fedor is just the cherry on top.”

As for Fedor’s performances thus far, against Frank Mir and Chael Sonnen, “what else can you take from them? First round stoppages,’ Bader pointed out. “I was interested to see how the Mir fight would go, with him being so big, coming in and being a big heavyweight. But then [Fedor] answered that with a knockout.”

Next came Sonnen, and Fedor “went out there and kind of dominated Chael and looked great in the process. He leaves everything he has in the cage.”

Bader admitted that it just wouldn’t have been the same if Sonnen, a former middleweight competing at light heavyweight of late, was in the final instead. “It wouldn’t be as sweet — and no disrespect to Chael — but it wouldn’t be as sweet if it was two 205’ers in the finals,” Bader explained. “I want a true heavyweight. Not only that, it’s one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. To go out there and compete for the heavyweight belt against a man like that, it’s a dream right now. We’re a couple days out, and I’ve just got to handle my business and take care of it.”

Bader vs. Fedor goes down at Bellator 214 this Saturday, January 26 at The Forum in Los Angeles, CA. The card airs on Paramount and streams on DAZN.