Ryan Bader interview above
Bellator 256 Media Day took place on Wednesday, April 7th ahead of the Friday card. Bellator 256 emanates from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
The top of the marquee attraction is a rematch between Ryan Bader and Lyoto Machida. This bout also serves as a quarterfinal match in Bellator’s light heavyweight world grand prix.
Below are excerpts from my interactions with Ryan Bader in the virtual scrum.
Bellator 256 Media
I was just wondering because just with this being a rematch, it seemed like the first time out there was a dynamic whereby Lyoto’s range-minded style maybe frustrated you to a degree. And there was the rushing in, kind of dynamic. Do you think there’s going to be that championship composure this time around and is that going to be the biggest difference in the rematch?
“Yeah, I mean I didn’t really know what I was doing on my feet back then, you know. I could hit hard, I didn’t even have a jab. For me, going against one of the better strikers at that time. It was one of those things where I was just out of my league. And I didn’t try for one takedown. I didn’t threaten him with certain things. So it’s a totally different fight now. That was lifetimes ago for me.”
“I’ve grown since then, became a two-division champion, fought everybody in MMA. And have that experience. So for me yeah I have to pressure him but I got to do it patiently. I got to pick my times and I’ve worked a lot of karate. Worked with a lot of karate coaches. I know what he’s looking for, what I need to do to negate that. So I’m feeling really good coming into this rematch.”
Just with the backdrop of that prior Grand Prix question. I spoke with Demetrious Johnson recently and he said his grand prix title was the crown jewel of his career. How do you weight the Grand Prix championship you have versus some of the lineal titles you captured? Do you compartmentalize them in any kind of way.?
“No, I agree with Johnson. Mine was really special because it was a chance to become a two-division champion and heavyweight champion and the Grand Prix champion. So when I won that, there was those three things on the plate. A two-division champion, a Grand Prix champion and heavyweight champion and I got to do it by beating Fedor. So it was extra sweet, but I love the style of it.”
“I loved knowing who I was going to fight, who I was gonna potentially fight. When, where I was going to fight. Whereas, if you just have a title fight you fight and then who knows who’s next? Who knows when you’re gonna fight again? It could be three months, it could be a year later, you know. So I love the planning aspect of being in a Grand Prix.”
Much has been made earlier about the rematch coming up here and the potential rematches for you in this tournament. But we also have another rematch in this tournament field with Vadim Nemkov vs Phil Davis II going down for the light heavyweight World Championship.
You’re familiar with both of those guys. So what are your thoughts on how the story of that fight unfurls?
“I’ve said this before but I think Phil Davis is definitely a dark horse in this tournament and definitely on that side. I feel like he could go out there and beat anybody in any given fight. He has a weird style, his wrestling is obviously great. A lot of power in his legs and his stamina is good. And if you watch the last fight, it’s a three-round fight, you know. And he had Nemkov exhausted at the end. So I wouldn’t be surprised if Phil goes out there and beats him, to be honest.”