Bellator MMA Light Heavyweight Champion Ryan Bader faces Fedor Emelianenko in the main event of Bellator 214, with the bout also serving as the finals for the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix.
The former UFC star was one of the bigger free agents signings ever made by Bellator MMA and Bader says the whole gamble paid off in the end.
“We were always willing to bet on ourselves and that’s what we did when we left the UFC, I have nothing negative to say about them at all. I had a great time there, twenty fight vet…won the Ultimate Fighter. It was just time for me to kind of explore elsewhere and we took a leap, I didn’t know how it was gonna be. First fight over…I fought in Madison Square Garden and won the belt, the light heavyweight belt. This show is just as big as any other show I’ve been in, now kind of looking back…it was a great decision. I was able to come over and do some stuff…different stuff and as a fighter of how many fights I’ve had, I’ve had close to thirty fights. I’ve been through a reality series and I won that, I’ve had tons of fights in the UFC. I came over here and I won the belt, now I’m in a heavyweight grand prix tournament. That’s one thing I haven’t done and fighting a heavyweight in and of itself, to be able to do this and keep my head down and now I’m in the finals against Fedor. I never thought I would be fighting him ever, looking in the UFC…I thought I would be fighting these guys, these Rampages of the world sooner or later…but Fedor was always way off in another land, in another realm that I was never gonna be able to match up with organizational wise or he might be done before I get to the level to be able to fight him. It’s just a dream come to for me, I’m here…I’m gonna take advantage of it,” Bader says in an exclusive interview with Fightful’s James Lynch.
Bader also has a chance to make some Bellator history on Saturday Night because capturing the heavyweight title would make him the first fighter in the promotion to hold two belts at the same time in two different weight classes.
A potential victory over Emelianenko and capturing the Bellator Heavyweight Title has Bader asking one big question, what else is there to do?
“...in my career right now, I don’t see a time and a fight that’s much bigger than this right now. What else is there to do? I can’t cut to 185, so you’re fighting for two belts…you’re fighting one of the greatest fighters of all time. You win that fight and you’re a two division champion and you just capped off that heavyweight grand prix tournament and you’re a heavyweight champion…beat Fedor, that’s the pinnacle right there. I feel like its all led up to this and everything after that’s just gravy,” says Bader.
Bellator 214 takes place on Saturday, January 26 from The Forum in Inglewood, California with Ryan Bader and Fedor Emelianenko headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, which airs live on the Paramount Network.