Ryan Bader is now a finalist in Bellator’s stacked heavyweight grand prix after dominating Matt Mitrione for three grueling rounds on Friday night at Bellator 207.
Bader went into the semi-final matchup coming off of a scintillating 15-second knockout over former Strikeforce title holder “King Mo” Muhammad Lawal back in May. The current light heavyweight champion took on a career-long heavyweight in Mitrione and rag dolled him for the better part of three rounds en route to a decisive unanimous decision victory.
“I wasn’t surprised by the outcome of this fight, no,” Bader said immediately after the fight. “Going in this fight, I wasn’t gonna slug it out with a 255-pound heavyweight [whose] bread and butter is being quick and throwing bombs.
“I haven’t been hit this whole tournament, haven’t gotten hit in the face once yet.”
Mitrione (13-6) lost his first Bellator bout after winning his first four fights with the promotion, three of which were by brutal knockout. The former professional football player is known for his quick movement and knockout power, but Mitrione’s greatest assets were almost completely nullified by Bader’s aggressive offensive wrestling.
“He was longer than I thought he would be, and he moved well. When he had that burst (of strikes) on me he was really going for broke,” Bader said.
“Look at where he was ranked. [Mitrione] was the number one ranked heavyweight in Bellator.”
Bader has only lost one fight since 2013, winning the Bellator light heavyweight belt after departing the UFC in 2016.