Bellator 273: Ryan Bader Welcomes Kongo Fight, Admits It’s a “Left Turn”

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Phoenix, AZ — Even Ryan Bader felt like his title defense at Bellator 273 against Valentin Moldavsky was a toss up. Which left him a little nervous, at least, when the fight went to the judges.

“Man I’m never confident going to the judges. It’s the first time in my life that I was hoping they weren’t scoring it for the wrestling,” Bader (29-7, 1NC) told media outlets including Cageside Press following the event. “I was rocking him pretty good with my punches, I was seeing everything. I underestimated his clinch and his body lock. He kept stepping in front of me, this weird deal, and he’s stronger than I thought. I’ve never been picked up like that really.”

Bader told himself to keep getting up, believing he was tiring the Russian heavyweight out. He also knew he had to continue throwing strikes. “At the end there, he was just holding on, and I had probably 20 unanswered elbows to his head. Those can’t be ignored. So when we went to the scorecards I was like, who knows.”

Bader’s corner was honest with him heading into the fifth. “They said it was 2-2. Go out and win this round.” When Moldavsky managed latch onto Bader with a body lock, he knew he had to do some damage; the elbows followed.

After picking up the unanimous decision win, former foe Cheick Kongo was brought into the cage. Their rematch will happen May 6 in Paris. It was an unexpected turn of events for Bader, who suspected his next fight might be against the soon-to-retire Fedor Emelianenko.

“That’s a left turn right there. I thought for sure it was going to be Fedor in Russia and all that stuff.” Still, the Kongo fight is one Bader has pursued for some time. Their initial meeting ended in a No Contest due to what was ruled an accidental eye poke by Bader. “Unfinished business, right? I always wanted to get that fight back. And he was talking so much sh*t from after; ‘I poked him in the eye.’ Dude, there’s video of you wincing and it’s in your nose. Again, it came up last fight, ‘I’m going to beat your ass in Paris’ and all this bullsh*t and whatever. I like that fight. I’ve been asking for that fight forever, I wanted to run that back before I was going down to light heavyweight. Now we get to do it, I’m comfortable at this weight, I’m no longer going back and forth.”

Bader is also happy to have a fight lined up immediately after his most recent title defense. “It’s actually nice. It’s not like I’m getting any younger. I’m 38 years old, I had a fight in October, obviously here tonight in January, running it again in May. Let’s just rack ’em up.”

Watch the full Bellator 273 post-fight press conference with Ryan Bader above. More coverage from the event can be found below.

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