On Saturday night, Ryan Bader made history inside the Bellator MMA cage.
The former UFC light heavyweight contender wiped out the legendary heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko in just 35 seconds to become Bellator’s first simultaneous two-division champion. Bader captured the light heavyweight crown by beating Phil Davis back in June 2017, and didn’t absorb a single significant strike in his three heavyweight tournament fights vs. Fedor, Matt Mitrione, and “King Mo” Lawal.
Bellator president Scott Coker was asked at the Bellator 214 post-fight press conference where he’d rank Bader in his pound-for-pound rankings, and he has him near the very top of the list.
“He’s got to be right up there in the top two or three in my opinion,” Coker said. “The guy is dangerous. I’m not even sure if I’m just imagining, but it seems like he’s becoming a better and better striker because the go-to move was always go for the takedown, go for the shoot, try and punch then go for the shoot, ground-and-pound. Now, the ‘King Mo’ stoppage and this stoppage, I think he was setting up what he hit him with, and he caught him, and that was it. These guys are big, strong men, and one punch and it’s over.”
Bader (27-5) is on a seven-fight winning streak dating back to the end of his UFC career. He left the UFC as one of the top contenders in the light heavyweight division, and now he’s established himself as #1 at LHW in Bellator, and won the heavyweight tournament with ridiculous ease. As far as defending both belts, Coker did add that Bader will have “leeway” to do so if he’s interested.
With all due respect to Bader, who’s done extremely well for himself since departing the UFC as a free agent, I doubt many people echo Coker’s opinion that Ryan is among the three best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.