Ryan Bader’s career since defecting from the Ultimate Fighting Championship to Bellator MMA in 2016 is nothing short of remarkable. The 35-year-old has gone from strength to strength since his debut fight for the promotion when he captured the Bellator light heavyweight belt by defeating another former UFC fighter Phil Davis at Bellator 180 in June 2017.
In 2018, “Darth” entered the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix and beat the likes of Muhammed Lawal, Matt Matrione and finally Fedor Emelianenko to claim the vacant Bellator heavyweight title. Now that he has both belts in Bellator, Bader is hoping for a cross promotion showdown with Daniel Cormier who up until late last year held both the light heavyweight and heavyweight belts in the UFC.
“DC” and Bader had been scheduled to fight back in 2015 under the UFC banner, although Cormier accepted a title fight with Anthony Johnson instead and the fight never went ahead. Bader’s head coach at Power MMA, Jair Lourenco, believes his fighter can beat Cormier if the pair were to meet down the line (via MMA Fighting):
“That’s the fight we wanted. That’s the fight everybody wanted,” Lourenco said. “It’s an old rivalry, and it would be the first champ-champ vs. champ-champ cross-promotion in MMA history. That only happens in boxing. That’s a fight I wanted to see.”
Lourenco believes Bader is one of the three best pound-for-pound fighters in MMA today and considering he barely got hit in his way to winning the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix, is now at a level to challenge Cormier.
“I believe that a five-round fight would be a great scenario for us,” Lourenco said. “Bader does great in five-round fights, but they both have heavy hands. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a war, but I believe Bader has a great chance of finishing him inside five rounds.
“Cormier is a great guy, much respect to him, but I see a good match-up for Bader. Cormier is an excellent wrestler with a good game on short range, the same game Bader does well. Cormier did more in pure wrestling, but Bader’s wrestling is great for MMA.”