Ryan Bader Wants to Win and Defend Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight Titles in Bellator

Ryan Bader admits that it would be tough to give up one of his titles if he becomes the Bellator heavyweight and light heavyweight champion

Ryan Bader didn’t hesitate when Bellator asked him to be part of the heavyweight grand prix that will run through next January to crown a new champion.

As the reigning light heavyweight champion, Bader had already won and defended his title so the chance to move up a weight class and go for a second world title was very appealing to him.

On Friday night at Bellator 207, Bader will look to punch his ticket to the finals when he faces Matt Mitrione in the main event with the winner then taking on either Chael Sonnen or Fedor Emelianenko in January.

As soon as he signed up to participate in the tournament, Bader wanted the chance to become a two-division champion but also hoped that Bellator would allow him to keep and defend both titles.

While he’s not looking too far ahead right now with two more fights ahead of him before he could even contemplate holding two titles, Bader admits that the plan he had when he started the tournament remains the same now.

“I haven’t thought about this real clear but we’ll see what happens,” Bader said ahead of his fight at Bellator 207. “If I get the heavyweight belt, maybe I’ll think I don’t want to cut weight anymore or maybe I’ll think I’ll go back and defend that light heavyweight championship and a guy that defends both. We’ll see. It’s one of those things, where they told me to keep this belt and after the tournament we’ll figure it out.

“At that moment, I was like I’m going to keep both belts and I’m going to defend them. That’s my mindset right now. We’re going to see if it plays out where if I go out there and I win both of these fights, maybe there’s a more intriguing fight at heavyweight than light heavyweight. So it’s kind of wait and see for me. Originally and I still think this way, I want to defend both.”

Bellator president Scott Coker has said that no decisions have been made regarding the possibility that Bader could hold and defend both titles but he didn’t say one of the belts would be stripped immediately either.

Bellator hasn’t had a heavyweight champion since 2016 when Vitaly Minakov was stripped of the title due to inactivity. So it’s not like the heavyweight title has been very active over the past two years anyways.

Add to that, Bellator has less overall cards per year than the UFC, which constantly tries to headline every pay-per-view — 12 per year — with a championship bout at the top. The sheer number of cards per years have led to the UFC introducing numerous interim titles and stripping other champions of belts to help pave the way for titles fights to headline marquee events.

Bader likes the fact that at Bellator at least he has the option to potentially defend both championships rather than winning a second world title and having one stripped away almost immediately.

“Look what’s happening with [Daniel] Cormier potentially. He just won the belt a few months ago and now you have other people stepping in and fighting for the title, which is crazy,” Bader said. “When the tournament started, they said hold onto your belt, see how it goes at heavyweight and we’ll go from there.

“I like that aspect of Bellator.”

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.