Ryan Bader has been one of the hottest heavyweights in the world recently and Saturday night was no different – at least for the majority of a round.
Bader (27-5, 1 NC) retained his Bellator heavyweight title by dominating Cheick Kongo for nearly four minutes before an eye poke ended the fight. The main event of Bellator 226 was deemed a no contest when Kongo was not allowed to continue by the cageside doctor. Bader’s retention was the definition of an anticlimax after what was a solid night of MMA action, but things become chaotic and downright bizarre when “Darth” tried exiting the cage.
With his belt around his waist, Bader was confronted by Pride legend and former UFC light heavyweight Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. In what seemed like a page taken from the WWE playbook, “Rampage” began talking trash and all hell broke loose. The two had to be separated amid the chaos, and Bader allegedly had no idea Jackson was going to do this.
“I was walking out, and then there was this big Fat Guy there where the gate opens up,” Bader said at the post-fight press conference, well after the melee died down. “And he said something like ‘You did that s--t on purpose.’ And then he was trying to fight me, and I didn’t even know what was going on.”
Bader already has toppled Jackson. The two squared off at UFC 144 seven-plus years ago, and Bader won a unanimous decision. That duel was in the middle of a three-fight losing streak for Jackson before he left the UFC to start his career anew with Bellator.
“I said, ‘Do you want this again?’ Bader said. “Obviously it would be a super heavyweight. Why not? It would be easier than the Kongo fight.”
Once the two exchanged (un)pleasantries, that’s when the confrontation become hostile. Jackson (38-13) tried coming at Bader while shouting obscenities and several people inside the Bellator cage had to intervene, preventing the skirmish from morphing into a wild brawl.
“He comes at me and he starts saying ‘F--k you’ and all that kind of stuff,” he said. “It is what it is. (I) walked back in the middle of the cage and said, ‘Let’s go, then.’ Then he got held back by my dad, I think, and that was it.”
Jackson hasn’t fought in nearly a year, when he vanquished old rival Wanderlei Silva at Bellator 206 after losing two straight to Muhammad Lawal and Chael Sonnen.