Looks like Ryan Bader will get a Bellator MMA title shot in his debut, after all.
Bader was expected to face off with “King Mo” Muhammed Lawal in his promotional debut at Bellator 180 on June 24 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Monday on “The MMA Hour” with Ariel Helwani, Davis revealed that Lawal had pulled out the bout due to a nagging injury and “Mr. Wonderful” had stepped into his place, firming up the rematch with Bader and adding a third Bellator MMA title fight to the bill.
Bader and Davis previously met in the Ultimate Fighting Championship in January 2015, with Bader prevailing via three-round unanimous decision. It is expected that the injured Lawal will meet the winner of Bader-Davis 2 later this year.
The 33-year-old Bader went 7-1 over his last eight bouts in the Octagon and bounced back from his January 2016 knockout loss to Anthony Johnson by hammering Ilir Latifi and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira for a second time. The UFC showed little interest in re-signing Bader after he completed the last fight on his contract, paving the way for Bader to sign with Bellator MMA this past April.
Davis, 32, made the jump to Bellator MMA following his loss to Bader in the Octagon. After winning a four-man, one-night tournament in September 2015 with wins over Emmanuel Newton and Francis Carmont, Davis topped Muhammed Lawal in a close decision 12 months ago. The former NCAA Division 1 national wrestling champion took the Bellator MMA light heavyweight title in his last outing, dominating previously unbeaten Brit Liam McGeary en route to a five-round decision.
Bellator 180 is the promotion's second-ever pay-per-view offering, headlined by Wanderei Silva's showdown with Chael Sonnen. Bader-Davis will serve as the featured preliminary of the Spike broadcast immediately prior to the PPV.