Win two grand prix tournaments, and become double champ once again: Ryan Bader has a chance to do something in the Bellator light heavyweight grand prix that no other fighter has really done before. It all starts Friday at Bellator 256.
Ryan Bader has had years to think about getting his revenge against Lyoto Machida. Nearly a decade, in fact. They’ll meet again this Friday at Bellator 256, with heavyweight champ Bader looking to begin the journey back to light heavyweight gold. It’s all part of Bellator’s light heavyweight grand prix, with Bader vs. Machida 2 the first of four quarterfinal bouts.
“That’s always one I wanted to get back,” Bader said of his 2012 loss to Machida. Speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press at the Bellator 256 virtual media day on Wednesday, the former UFC contender admitted that he was “out of my league” fighting “The Dragon” at the time. The fight was at UFC on FOX 4; Bader entered off a couple of big wins. But he didn’t try for a single takedown that. Or threaten the Brazilian with anything, really. “It’s a totally different fight now. That was lifetimes ago for me.”
“Not only that, you have two guys on the other side I lost to. One recently,” added Bader, referring to Anthony Johnson and Vadim Nemkov. The pair sit on the opposite side of the tournament bracket. “So it would be that much sweeter to not only get those wins back, but do it in a grand prix tournament.”
Not too long ago, Bader was a double champ in Bellator, carrying light heavyweight and heavyweight gold. A win in this latest grand prix would leave him with two titles once again, as he remains Bellator’s heavyweight champion. It would also give him a second grand prix win, a feat accomplished by few fighters, unless you go back to the early one-night tournaments in the UFC, and specifically to Royce Gracie.
“That would be huge. It’s something that, I don’t know if anybody has really done that,” said Bader. “Granted, there’s not a lot of grand prixes.”
It seems as if Ryan Bader would actually be keen for more of them. “I had so much fun in that heavyweight grand prix, that when they asked me if I would joined this grand prix, I said ‘yes, for sure,’ right away,” he told Cageside Press on Wednesday. “Because I love the format. It brings a lot of eyeballs, and I have the opportunity to do something nobody’s ever really done: becoming a two-division champ once again, and winning two grand prixes.”
Ryan Bader meets Lyoto Machida in the main event of Bellator 256 this Friday, April 9 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. The fight is a quarterfinal bout in the Bellator light heavyweight grand prix. In the U.S., the event airs live on Showtime.