Ryan Bader only just captured the Bellator light heavyweight strap in June, but the UFC veteran already has designs on making a splash in another division.
“I would like to test the waters at heavyweight. I heard some rumblings they might do some heavyweight stuff, and I’d like to be a part of it,” Bader told Sherdog.com. “That’s one of the things I came over to Bellator for, was to have those opportunities. Those different opportunities. We talked about that when I was signing with them. I’m definitely open to that.”
The heavyweight title is currently vacant after Bellator stripped Vitaly Minakov of the belt last year. Minakov remains under contract with the promotion but hasn’t fought since outpointing Cheick Kongo in April 2014. That was also the last time Bellator held a heavyweight championship fight, period. Bellator President Scott Coker recently told MMAFighting.com that he would like to crown a new champion in the first quarter of 2018.
Meanwhile, Bader has more pressing concerns to attend to in his current weight class. The Power MMA Team product took a split verdict over former UFC rival Phil Davis to claim light heavyweight gold in his promotional debut at Bellator 180. His first title defense will come against Englishman Linton Vassell in the Bellator 186 headliner on Friday at the Bryce Jordan Center on the Penn State University campus. The evening’s main card will be televised on Spike beginning at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.
If Bader is able to keep the championship at 205 pounds and still compete at heavyweight, it’s an option he would like to explore down the road.
“Obviously, now I’m the champion at 205 and I want to keep that championship. I want to defend that belt,” he said. “If I have opportunities where I can keep that belt and go fight at heavyweight and come back and defend it, I would definitely do that.”