Saturday, November 27, 2021

Ryan Bader Optimistic About His Tournament Path Before Bellator 199

Ryan Bader (24-5) faces Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal (21-6) in the next round of Bellator’s Heavyweight World Grand Prix at Bellator 199. The current light-heavyweight champ has a shot at avenging a loss from his wrestling days, along with a chance at claiming two titles with Bellator MMA that would make for a great landmark in his career. The two have faced each other before in a wrestling match where Bader lost so this first fight in the tournament could be the start of a long list of achievements.

In an interview with ESPN, Bader said that having a shot at Fedor Emelianenko (37-5-1) in the finals if he defeats Lawal would make for a “storybook ending”. However, fans should not count Lawal out of this tournament or any of the competitors that come from wrestling for that matter. Wrestlers are no stranger to the tournament format and are used to doing them in a matter of days.  A yearlong tournament in MMA only allows them time to plan for each opponent.

Bader addressed this in the interview saying, “I’m really looking forward to this tournament. The one cool thing for me is that I know who I’m fighting. I’ve never had that before. It’s always been, ‘Go out and win this fight and we’ll see what happens. I know what’s next if I go out there and keep winning. That’s the main difference and that’s what gets me excited.”

The wrestling match between Bader and Lawal was more than 10 years ago, but when comparing the fighting careers of the two, Lawal has fought and won MMA tournaments in the past, or at least made it to the finals in Japan over at RIZIN. The tournament format was the norm at Bellator as well before Coker took over which Lawal has won or been a finalist in. The outlook may be new to Bader, but Lawal might be more experienced in planning ahead.

Who do you think will advance after the main event at Bellator 199?

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