It doesn’t matter whether it’s in the UFC or in Bellator, Ryan Bader edges Phil Davis in a close fight. Only this time, a title was on the line.
Bader defeated Davis in the main event of the Bellator 180 prelim card via split decision (49-46, 47-48, 49-46) to win the Bellator Light Heavyweight title. Fightful’s David Tees, who is covering the entire Bellator card, scored the fight for Bader 48-47.
Below is an excerpt of the fight from Fightful's live coverage page of Bellator 180.
Round Five: The round begins with Bader peppering Davis with some jabs, Davis slips as the two fighters swing away at each other. Davis comes forward and he catches Bader with a short left, Bader backs up Davis with a high kick attempt. Davis cracks a kicking Bader with a counter right, Davis goes for a high kick before nailing Bader with a right. Bader catches a swinging Davis with a counter left hook, Davis then cracks Bader with a kick to the midsection. Bader scores a takedown on Davis and Davis gets back up, Bader then holds Davis against the cage wall. The fighters separate and Davis kicks Bader in the midsection, Bader responds by popping Davis with an uppercut. Davis hits an incoming Bader with an overhand right, Davis starts swinging wildly against Bader and nothing lands. Bader then cracks an incoming Davis with a right, Davis blocks a takedown attempt from Bader as the round ends.
Fightful scores the round 10-9 for Bader (Final Score: 48-47 for Bader)
Official Result: Ryan Bader def. Phil Davis by split decision (49-46, 47-48, 49-46) to win the Bellator MMA Light Heavyweight Title
The win snapped Davis' four-fight win streak, which started when he submitted Emanuel Newton a little less than two years ago in his Bellator MMA debut.
Both men had faced each other all the way back in 2015 when the two were a member of the UFC roster. Like in the rematch, Bader also won the first fight via split decision. The win marks Bader's first ever championship as a pro MMA fighter. Bader is also The Ultimate Fighter 8 Light Heavyweight Tournament winner.
It was also Bader's Bellator debut after his UFC contract expired after his win over Antônio Rogério Nogueira. Bader is now on a three-fight win streak and has won eight of his last nine fights.