Ryan Bader Inks New Deal with Bellator

CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - JANUARY 26, 2019: American light heavyweight MMA fighter Ryan Bader poses with his trophies at a press conference on winning the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix final bout against his Russian rival Fedor Emelianenko at the Forum in Inglewood, California; Bader knocked out Emelianenko 35 seconds into the bout. TASS (Photo by TASSTASS via Getty Images)

Ryan Bader Inks New Deal with Bellator

Bellator light-heavyweight and heavyweight champion Ryan Bader has inked a new deal with Bellator MMA. After knocking out Fedor Emelianenko, and ultimately winning the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix, Bader announced he only had one fight remaining on his contract. Instead of completing his contract and re-exploring free agency, Bader has chosen to remain a part of the Bellator roster with a multi-year fight deal.

With the new contract set in stone, Bader now has the opportunity to defend two championship belts simultaneously. Should he take this approach, one wonders which belt he will decide to defend next. While holding the light-heavyweight belt, Bader spent all of 2018 competing as a heavyweight.

Light-Heavyweight Title Defense

Taking his 2018 absence from the division into consideration, it would make sense for Bader to make a return to 205 pounds next. However, there is currently no formal number one contender at light-heavyweight. Although many (this author included) would argue that Vadim Nemkov should be next in line. He’s 3-0 with the promotion and has defeated two former Bellator champions in Liam McGeary and Phil Davis. In fact, other than the champ-champ himself, Nemkov is the only person on the roster to defeat Phil Davis. Like Bader, Nemkov also signed a new contract with Bellator earlier this year.  If you don’t think the stars have aligned enough for this match-up to take place, you aren’t paying attention.

Heavyweight Title Defense

Meanwhile, Cheick Kongo is the heavyweight number one contender. He earned this spot with an impressive eight-fight winning streak, and by becoming the first man to defeat Vitaly Minakov in his professional career.

Should Ryan Bader defend both of his titles in 2019, he will surely be a strong candidate for fighter of the year. It must feel good to be the champ-champ.

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