Ryan Bader, 38 years young, defends his Bellator MMA heavyweight championship this Friday at Bellator 280.
There, Bader (29-7, 1NC) takes on Cheick Kongo, roughly eight years his senior. But despite recently signing a contract extension that he may not necessarily be his last, don’t expect him to still be competing at age 46 like his upcoming opponent.
“I don’t think I’m gonna be a 46-year-old fighting,” Bader told Cageside Press during Wednesday’s Bellator 280 media day. “I have other stuff I want to do, but when we talked about this contract, I don’t see myself going down to light heavyweight anymore. That was one thing. I don’t know if I want to put myself through that, that weight cut, and I just didn’t feel great.”
“So for me right now, it’s like all right, we’re gonna finish out this deal here and kind of see where we go from there. That could be a two year deal. I’ll be a little over 40 at that point; if I still have that belt and say hey, I want to get one more or two more [fights] or something like that, whatever it is, it’s something that, I’ll cross that line [when I get to it].”
For now, Bader says the fire is still burning, and he plans to finish out his next four fights at heavyweight. But the end will come eventually, though Bader isn’t sure what a storybook ending to his career would look like.
“I don’t know,” replied Bader when asked what a storybook ending would be for him. His win over Fedor Emelianenko would be hard to beat, he admitted. “Winning that heavyweight championship with beating Fedor, knockout, it was a perfect storm. Becoming two-division champion. I’ll always look back at that, and that will be kind of like the highlight deal.”
“I’ve had 40-something fights in here. It’s making money, it’s competing, still trying to be my best,” Bader added. “And for me, run these four fights out, and either retire champion, or maybe take one or two more.”
Ryan Bader defends his heavyweight title against Cheick Kongo at Bellator 280 in Paris, France this Friday, May 6, 2022. Check out Bader’s full media day appearance above. More coverage can be found below.