Bellator 226 has been officially announced for September 7 with a heavyweight title main event between Ryan Bader and Cheick Kongo and the start of the Featherweight Grand Prix.
Double champion Ryan Bader will defend his heavyweight title first, as clear number-one contender Cheick Kongo will get his long-overdue title shot. Bader has won seven straight fights, and 12 of his last 13, while Kongo has won eight consecutive bouts.
Ryan Bader ended his UFC run strongly, with seven wins in eight fights, but was not re-signed by the promotion despite being a top light heavyweight contender. After winning the Bellator light heavyweight belt over Phil Davis in his promotional debut, he defended the belt once then joined the Heavyweight Grand Prix. Bader tore through the tournament, defeating Muhammad Lawal, Matt Mitrione, and Fedor Emelianenko to win heavyweight gold.
Cheick Kongo had a lengthy career in the UFC, going 11-6-1 from 2006 to 2013. He’s found his stride in Bellator. After starting his run with the promotion at 4-2, Kongo has won eight straight fights, including wins over Alexander Volkov, Augusto Sakai, Timothy Johnson, and most recently, longtime heavyweight champion Vitaly Minakov. Kongo was kept out of the heavyweight tournament presumably due to his unappealing fighting style. However, a pair of knockout wins in his last three fights and a win in a clear number-one contender bout have made him undeniable.
Bellator 226 will take place on September 7 in the SAP Center in San Jose, California, exclusively on DAZN. While Juan Archuleta vs. Patricio Pitbull was reported for September as part of the Featherweight Grand Prix, it will take place on a different card.