Phoenix, AZ — His first Bellator fight at home in Arizona “didn’t go as planned,” Ryan Bader admitted this week.
It most certainly did not. Corey Anderson finished the former light heavyweight (and current heavyweight) champion, knocking him out of the promotion’s ongoing 205lb grand prix in under a minute.
“What sucked about that fight is when you’re done, and you’re like ‘man I didn’t even get to fight,'” Bader (28-7, 1NC) told media outlets including Cageside Press this week. “Corey went out there and did an amazing job, but it’s that feeling of, I didn’t even get to prove myself, I didn’t get anything in.”
Now back at heavyweight, where Bader says he’s wanted to fight for a while, “I’m excited to be at my full potential capacity,” the heavyweight champ stated. In fact he may remain in the weight class permanently, Bader suggested during the Bellator 273 media day.
“I kind of shut down that chapter for a while. Maybe forever. I’m a heavyweight now,” Bader stated.
“I think I’m going to be a heavyweight for the rest of my career. I just don’t see any benefit in going back down,” Bader elaborated. “There’s a belt that I was obviously defending down there, and I wanted to step up to my obligations in that division. But I don’t have that belt anymore, and there’s contenders in front of me, so what’s the point, you know? I have this heavyweight belt, I’m looking to defend that, defend it again and again, so heavyweight is where I’m going to be for a while, and I just don’t see anything that would really bring me down, unless it was something super special.”
Saturday at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Bader will square off against Valentin Moldavsky, a member of Team Fedor. His next fight could very well be Fedor Emelianenko himself: the Russian legend has expressed interest in a rematch with Bader for his retirement fight later this year.
“The Russians like me or something. They’re after me,” Bader joked, going on to say that he can see why Emelianenko would be interested. “It’s one of those things where, I get it. I ended up knocking him out in 35 seconds, and I can see how he wouldn’t want to go out like that, want a rematch.”
“I’m open to it, but I haven’t really thought about it too much,” Bader continued. “I want to focus on this fight, go out there and win this fight, then see what the win side of that would look like for me. Because right now, looking at that, it’s like a lose-lose situation. I can’t beat him any better than I did. It is a big fight, any Fedor fight is a big fight, especially his last retirement fight, but we’ll cross that bridge when it comes.”
Just days removed from Francis Ngannou’s big win at UFC 270, Ryan Bader also touched on the UFC heavyweight champ’s contract dispute with that promotion. It looks as if “The Predator” is willing to sit and wait for his contract to expire. Bader sees it as a positive any time a fighter sticks up for himself.
“For the fighters, I think it’s good. I always think it’s good when a guy can stand up for himself, and different fighters, and pay and all that stuff,” he stated. “You’ve kind of seen it a little bit, you’ve seen guys like us, that have been like ‘alright, I’m going to fight my contract out and see what I can get elsewhere.’ He’s kind of doing that same thing and on top of that, he has one of the biggest names in boxing even calling him out.”
That, of course, would be heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, who has been calling out Ngannou for some time. “That’s the biggest thing for me, where hey, I can go over here and make four times as much as I’d ever make in my lifetime in the UFC or mixed martial arts in one fight— why wouldn’t I try to maximize that, and do whatever I could do to either get out of this contract, or get paid what I feel like I could be getting paid over here?” finished Bader.
Watch the full Bellator 273 media day scrum with Ryan Bader above. The event takes place Saturday, January 29, 2022 at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, AZ. More coverage can be found below.