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Ryan Bader’s quest to become a two-division champion continues at Bellator 207

Can Bader make it six in a row and move on up to the Grand Prix finals?

If there is anyone who can thrive off of a tournament format in combat sports, it is Ryan Bader. The current Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion has truly tested himself and has become the favorite to win the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament. He first has to pass by Matt Mitrione in the semifinals at Bellator 207 at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT on Friday, October 12.

A two-time All-American wrestler, Bader (25-5) is much quicker than any of the remaining members of the tournament, and also the youngest. At 35, he is considered the kid in this field of elder statesmen. That can be used towards his advantage as he looks for his sixth-straight win inside the octagon, and third in a row with Bellator.

With a 15-second TKO of Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal at Bellator 199 to advance, Bader can attack you at all angles. He has ten wins via knockout and four via submission. Don’t let the last stat fool you; his wrestling game is undeniable. That will come in handy against the heavyweight veteran in Mitrione (13-5).

Speaking to Luke Thomas on The MMA Hour, Bader discussed what makes him so different from Mitrione, stating:

“If you look at his record, he’s never fought a wrestler. You can call Roy Nelson a wrestler, but he’s never fought a dynamic, explosive wrestler. Not only that, I have power in both my hands. I can knock you out, I can take you down, I can grind you out, I can finish you on the ground, and I kind of look it as a Linton Vassell fight a couple of fights ago, when I defended the belt against him… In controlling him, I feel that he has better jiu-jitsu than Matt, ended up getting my position and finishing him on the ground.”

While the game plan sounds good, executing it is the tricky part. As we have seen in the Grand Prix so far, not everything has turned out like everyone thought it would. Upsets have been made and matches are ending faster than anticipated. This bout against Mitrione could very well be the match of the tournament, especially if power will be tested. With 11 wins via KO, Mitrione is not one to be messed around with.

That power does not scare Bader, who has fought a Murders’ Row of the UFC’s best at one point; Jon Jones, Tito Ortiz, Jason Britz, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Lyoto Machida. While he didn’t win all those bouts, it is the toughness of Bader that sticks out the most.

On the journey to become an immortal in Bellator’s short history, Ryan Bader is playing the ultimate game of chess. Will his next move at Bellator 207 secure him the right to face the winner of Bellator 208’s Chael Sonnen v. Fedor Emelianenko fight, scheduled to take place the day after his bout? Like most games, we will have to wait and see how it all plays out.

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Baseball Editor, Misc. Sports Editor. Covers all things combat sports (MMA, Pro Wrestling and Boxing). When he's not writing, Daniel hosts a podcast, The Main Event.
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