There will be some bad blood in the next scheduled Bellator MMA heavyweight title fight when champion Ryan Bader runs it back with former opponent Cheick Kongo. After Bader successfully defended his heavyweight title over Valentin Moldavsky last weekend at Bellator 273, it was immediately announced afterward that the champion would have his next title defense against Kongo, a rematch from their first meeting in 2019.
That first meeting in 2019 ended as a no-contest due to an accidental eye-poke from Bader, which put a halt to the fight. Since then, Bader went on to compete in the Bellator MMA Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix tournament, which he would come up short in, and then made the choice to jump back up and defend his heavyweight title.
Now that the stage is set for Bader and Kongo to rematch for the heavyweight title with the two meeting inside the cage following the Bellator 273 main event, Ryan Bader is letting his feelings be known about his next opponent. Earlier this week Bader spoke with Sirius XM’s ‘Unlocking The Cage‘ with Jimmy Smith and spoke about his feelings toward Kongo, including a story from the first time they ever had an interaction.
"He's just one guy I don't like."
— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) February 1, 2022
“I don’t like to s**t talk, I never have throughout my career, I’ve never had animosity, but I do think he’s just an odd duck. The first time [we met] I was signed to Bellator, it was my second fight and it’s fight week, we’re going to the locker room at the hotel, warming up and training a little bit, I walked in and he was in there going by himself. I walked up, introduced myself, never met him before and he just blew me off. So I was like ‘Oh, okay, cool.'”
Controversy surrounded the eye-poke incident as Ryan Bader explained that he felt that he did not poke Kongo, and the drama surrounding their fight has brought on the animosity between them.
“Then after that whole eye-poke thing, when I’m in the fight I’m like ‘Dude, I don’t think I poked him in the eye’ telling every body, then they [Bellator MMA] sent me the video, and I poked him in the nose and he immediately winces, grabs his eyes, and took that timeout then said he couldn’t see and the fight was done, no contest. Then obviously Rampage [Jackson] came in and tried to fight me in the cage and he was talking s**t, Kongo was talking s**t the whole time, saying he had me right where he wanted me. I don’t get the dude, I don’t get him at all. Oh, and he pushed me at weigh-ins [before the fight] I’m standing flat-footed, he made my teeth clicked and everything.”
All these small interactions with Kongo are why the Bellator MMA heavyweight champion says he does not like him, and with them already set to meet inside the cage, there’s no reason for the outside antics.
“It’s just little things like that, have some respect a little bit, we’re both going in there, we’re gonna fight at the end of the day. He’s just one guy I don’t like and I always wanted to get that fight back to prove ‘Alright that fight was exactly how we knew it was going to go, and you were going to get finished there pretty soon and you took the way out, you took the eye-poke and that was your way out.'”
There will be no need for any outside drama to be added to their title fight, which was announced to take place on May 6, as they try to put an end to their unfortunate first meeting, two years ago.
Mike Pendleton is a current contributor to MyMMANews while also hosting his “On The Mic” podcast and is a former Associate Producer at Sirius XM’s Fight Nation.
With a special passion for interviewing and talking to the very best around the fight game, you can read or listen to Mike’s work across his multiple outlets.
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