Two-division Bellator champion Ryan Bader is set to make his return to the cage.
According to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Bader will put his 205-pound title on the line against Vadim Nemkov at Bellator 244 on Aug. 21 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The two men were originally supposed to meet at Bellator 242 in May but the event was canceled due to coronavirus.
A light heavyweight for the majority of his career, Bader actually hasn’t competed at 205 pounds in nearly three years with his last fight at that weight being a successful title defense over Linton Vassell in 2017. Following the victory over Vassell, Bader entered and eventually won Bellator’s heavyweight Grand Prix, beating the likes of Mohammed “King Mo” Lawal, Matt Mitrione, and Fedor Emelianenko to become the promotion’s heavyweight champion.
Nemkov, meanwhile, holds an 11-2 professional record and is riding a six-fight winning streak that includes four consecutive victories in the Bellator cage. Since signing with the promotion in 2017, he has earned wins over Philipe Lins, Liam McGeary, Phil Davis, and Rafael Carvalho with three of them coming by way of stoppage.
In terms of how he feels about the upcoming fight, Ryan Bader admitted that he’s “excited”.
“I’m excited about it,” he told ESPN. “There was a lack of options where I thought I was going to fight at heavyweight again, but they can get him into the country [from Russia], and that’s the fight. He definitely deserves a title shot at light heavyweight. It’s one of those fights I’ve been looking at for a long time. It’s an intriguing fight and I’m ready to go down and defend.”
Bellator recently made its return to action, hosting its first live event since the outbreak of the coronavirus last Friday. The promotion will next host an event on Friday, Aug. 7, which is set to be headlined by a rematch between former two-time Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler and former UFC lightweight titleholder Benson Henderson.
Long Island-based sports writer covering MMA, Boxing, and the New York Jets.