Bellator MMA’s heavyweight champion Ryan Bader and UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic actually have a lot in common. Both stalwart MMA stars are currently heavyweight champions for their promotional outfits. Both are complete MMA fighters who are just as likely to knock out their opponents with punches and kicks as they are to score takedown after takedown with their expert wrestling skills. Both have been sponsored by Kill Cliff, at least when I interviewed them, a product billed as the world’s first and best clean energy drink.
The two MMA stars aren’t likely to tussle in the cage anytime soon, but it’s one of those fun fights to think about. Who would win that epic showdown?
“I believe in myself a hundred percent against anyone. Stipe is a great champion, but I like my chances,” Bader told Heavy.
Of course, Bader and Miocic are heading into their own massive fights under their different promotional banners.
Bader, 37, is currently Bellator’s heavyweight champion, but the American is also competing in Bellator’s upcoming Grand Prix tournament at light heavyweight in hopes of recapturing gold in that division, too.
Meanwhile, Miocic defends his title vs. Francis Ngannou at UFC 260 on March 27.
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Bader Wants ‘Champ Champ’ Status Back
Bader was Bellator’s first-ever “champ champ“. He lost his light heavyweight crown to Vadim Nemcov last year, but the American plans on getting his belt back by doing whatever it takes to win the tournament.
Bader’s first-round matchup is against Lyoto Machida, and it’s a fight he’s had his eyes on for a while now.
Machida defeated Bader by knockout when both were UFC stars in 2012. Bader has his heart set on getting revenge.
“It’s more about showing the fighter I am today and all the ways I’ve improved. I can’t wait to show how much better I am today,” Bader said.
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Bader’s Redemption Tour?
Bellator’s Grand Prix might turn out to be a kind of redemption tour for Bader. One of the most decorated fighters in MMA, Bader’s only losses came against Jon Jones, Tito Ortiz, Glover Teixeira, Lyoto Machida, Anthony Johnson, and Nemkov. Three fighters on that list make up the eight competitors set for Bellator’s upcoming 205-pound tournament.
“I love the idea of proving myself. Nothing matters but winning the fights. There are no politics involved. All I need to do is win,” Bader said.
Bader said he would love to get a crack at all the fighters who have defeated him before, but the most important thing for him was to win the Grand Prix tournament to become Bellator’s “champ champ” again.
In fact, Bader said he specifically chose his place in the tournament bracket so that he could aim at getting another crack at the 205-pound belt in the tournament finale.
It’s something he’s already experienced before. Bader won heavyweight gold by winning Bellator’s heavyweight Grand Prix.
The last fight in that tournament featured Bader vs. all-time great legend Fedor Emelianenko.
Bader stopped Emelianenko via one of the most stunning one-punch knockouts in MMA history, and not even Bader could believe it went down that way.
“You never draw things up that way. You never think a fight will be a one-punch knockout like that, especially against someone as great as Fedor,” Bader said.
Bader’s heavyweight plans will remain on hiatus while the light heavyweight tournament is going down. The fighter remains focused on keeping his hardware, but he also wants the chance to prove again inside a tournament where he stands amongst his peers.
Bader vs. Miocic?
As for Bader vs. Miocic, Bader revealed to Heavy the two men knew each other, and that he had nothing but respect for the champ.
Like the rest of the world, Bader will keep his eye on UFC 260 when Miocic faces Ngannou in a rematch the MMA world has been anxious to see.
And who does he think will win that fight? Like the rest of the world, even Bader isn’t sure about that one.
“I have no idea. Both those guys are great, and it should be a really good fight,” Bader said.
But ask him the same question about either of those guys facing Bader in a UFC champ vs. Bellator champ battle? Or any of the other UFC champs vs. Bellator champs for that matter?
Bader is picking Bellator.
Bader Joins ‘Fight Club’
Bader was doing media rounds this week for Kill Cliff’s Fight Club. That elite group of sponsored MMA athletes includes Bader, UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, UFC legend Joseph Benavidez and dangerous welterweight contender Gilbert Burns. The list of stalwarts also includes One Championship’s Aung La Nsang and ex-UFC champ Robbie Lawler.
Bader’s next fight vs. Machida happens on April 9 at Bellator 256. That card also includes former UFC star Corey Anderson vs. Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov.
The other four fighters in the tournament compete the following week at Bellator 257. Anthony Johnson vs. Yoel Romero is one of the fights. Bellator light heavyweight champ Nemkov takes on Phil Davis in the other bout.
All the action will be on Showtime.
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