Phil Davis (17-4, 1 NC) couldn’t do enough to keep his title against Ryan Bader (23-5).
The two were in a bit of a feeling out process early in the fight. Bader was able to avoid a takedown. Davis pushed him against the fence, but Bader broke off. A leg kick was there for Davis. Bader landed a left hand. The champion was able to connect with another leg kick. He drove in to go for another takedown, but nothing doing.
A high kick from Bader was blocked. “Darth” moved forward with strikes. “Mr. Wonderful” thought better of going for another takedown. The round ended to some boos from the New York City crowd in Madison Square Garden.
The second stanza began and Davis missed a high kick. Not much action was happening and the crowd grew restless. A body kick was there for Davis. He went for a takedown, but still couldn’t get it. Bader had a hook blocked. A right hand over the top was there for Bader. It was the most significant punch of the fight up to this point.
Round three was underway and the two traded kicks to the body. Yet another kick to the midsection was there for Davis. A superman punch followed by a left hand landed for Davis. Some blocked strikes into a leg kick found the mark for Davis. Bader got in a leg kick. He got a takedown, but was reversed at the end of the round.
Round four began with not much action. Referee Dan Miragliotta warned both men about a lack of inactivity. Davis drove the challenger to the fence, but they separated. A knee to the body was there for “Darth.” The boos rained down as the round came to a close.
A right hand found the mark for Davis in the final round. He threw an overhand right that had the challenger backing up a bit. Bader got a takedown, but Davis got back up quickly. “Darth” pushed the champion against the fence, but they separated shortly after. The fans continued to boo the lack of action. Bader landed a right hand, but wasn’t able to score the takedown. The final horn sounded, this one was another snoozer.
Two of the three judges scored the fight for Bader, who is now the new Bellator light heavyweight champion.
Final Result: Ryan Bader def. Phil Davis via split decision (49-46, 47-48, 49-46)