Ryan Bader is returning to the light heavyweight division to defend his 205-pound gold and he’s got a formidable challenger in Vadim Nemkov.
Bader vs. Nemkov is scheduled to headline Bellator 242 on May 9. The event will be held inside the SAP Center in San Jose, California. In the co-main event, Gegard Mousasi and Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima will collide for the vacant middleweight gold.
Bader Feels Nemkov Will Feel Pressure Unlike Any Other
MMA News spoke to Bader two months prior to his return to light heavyweight. The Bellator “champ-champ” said he’s looking forward to putting the controversial heavyweight title bout against Cheick Kongo behind him.
“Yeah, I kinda wanna get that one back. At the beginning, I was kinda just over it but now I kinda wanna go back and prove how that fight was already going. [It] was totally in my favor the whole time.”
For those unaware, Bader’s last bout ended in a No Contest due to an accidental eye poke. “Darth” insists that he poked Kongo’s nose and not his eye. Heated words were exchanged between Bader and Kongo’s teammate Quinton “Rampage” Jackson after the fight.
Bader is glad to put his focus back on the 205-pound division. He believes that while Nemkov has a lot going for him, he also has some holes in his game.
“Yeah, you know he’s very dynamic. He brings a lot of different looks to the game and he’s beaten three former champions. He comes out quick. I see a lot of good things about him. I also see some things that kinda expose him a little bit. He does come out very hard first round, second round and somewhere in the second round he fades a lot. He has a loss on his record from not answering the bell cause he was tired. Five-round fights are a lot different than three-round fights. He’s only gotten three, maybe two or three three-round fights. So a five-round fight, for a championship with all that pressure on you it’s gonna be a different thing. And that’s what I’m known for. I’m proven, I’ve been in five-round fights. I proved myself. So there’s some good things and I see some weaknesses in there.”
While Bader is known for wearing his opponent down, he also knows that anything can happen in the fight game and he’s working to prepare for any situation.
“You never know what’s gonna happen in a fight. It’s a fight. You can catch him with a punch in 15 seconds or it might be an all-out war for five rounds. But five rounds is a lot different. Like I said, I’ve been in there I felt that. I’m known to have the cardio, I’m known to go in there and wear guys down. And then like I said, his first title fight, his first chance. There’s extra nerves and all that, all of a sudden how do you regulate that energy? I know how to do that. I believe that’s gonna be a big difference but you never know. Like I said, it could be a first-round thing, it could be all five rounds hard but I’m ready for either.”
Bader weighed in at 228.7 pounds for his heavyweight bout with Kongo. Bader has certainly left no stone unturned when it comes to having an easier weight cut at light heavyweight and he feels the strength will still be there.
“No, you know my body goes where it wants to go and it feels the best. And even if I fight at heavyweight, if I start at 240 my body eventually gets down to that 230-mark, 228, that’s where it needs to be around that fight time. So obviously I’ll start that about 10 pounds lighter, which I’m already around that 228-mark. So going down in camp, my body kinda already does that itself. It’s not gonna be a bad cut, it’s gonna be the same cut I usually do. I’m looking forward to feeling fast while keeping my strength.”
Bader also noted that he’d like to defend his light heavyweight title again if he’s successful against Nemkov. He feels he’s left the 205-pound division hanging for too long. Ultimately, Bader has no problem doing whatever Bellator asks of him.
As far as a prediction goes, Bader feels he can leave the judges out of it and get the finish.
“I see a fourth-round TKO in the books.”