Ryan Bader got it back, nine years in the making. His loss against Lyoto Machida, that is. The current Bellator MMA heavyweight champ and former light heavyweight champ, Bader dominated his way to victory in the opening bout of the light heavyweight grand prix tournament at Bellator 256 on Friday night.
“It’s a testament to how far I’ve grown,” Bader told the media, including Cageside Press, following the bout. He had first met Machida in 2012, under the UFC banner. Machida won the fight, violently, via knockout. “You know, first fight I couldn’t hold my own at all in the standing department,” admitted Bader, who added “I knew my cardio was there, it definitely feels good to know when I’m fighting next and possibly who I’m fighting.”
The possible opponents consist of Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov and Corey Anderson who fight next weekend at Bellator 257. Bader is rooting for his former training partner, Corey Anderson while admittedly not knowing a ton about Bellator debutee Yagshimuradov.
“I know Corey really well, I trained with him,” Bader stated. “I brought him in when I fought Phil Davis. Big guy, but it was a long time ago, 2015, we’ve both grown a lot since then, he’s been on a tear,” Bader continued. ” I don’t know a lot about the other guy, if the other guy wins I’ll jump into him pretty heavy.”
On the other side of the bracket in this stacked grand prix, are Vadim Nemkov, who just beat Bader for the title, and Anthony Johnson. Both have defeated Bader earlier in his illustrious career, and Bader wouldn’t mind seeing one of the two in the finals.
“I’m not rooting for anyone,” Bader stated. “I’m a fan, I want to watch that side. Another guy over there Anthony Johnson, both those would be sweet revenge. I want to prove that wasn’t me in my last fight [the Nemkov Loss]. I was super flat, it is what it is, I want to prove I’m not that guy who showed up that night.”
Watch the full Bellator 256 post-fight press conference with Ryan Bader above.