Ryan Bader’s next Bellator heavyweight title challenger isn’t set in stone.
Many thought that the winner of Vitaly Minakov vs. Cheick Kongo this Saturday night (Feb. 16) would determine Bader’s next challenger. The heavyweight clash will serve as Bellator 216’s co-main event.
Scott Coker Says Winner Of Minakov vs. Kongo Not Guaranteed Title Shot
Speaking to reporters during the media day session for Bellator’s doubleheader, the promotion’s president Scott Coker explained why Bader’s next heavyweight challenger isn’t set in stone (via MMAJunkie.com):
“To me, it’s really whatever the fighter wants to do. I think that we should sit down and talk to Ryan, which we haven’t done yet. We want to just let him enjoy his moment in the sun. … We’ll get back with him and his management probably sometime in the next two weeks and figure out what he wants to do. Then we’ll go make it happen.
“There’s good fights for him in the heavyweight division; there’s good fights for him at the 205-pound weight class. When I think of 205 and Ryan Bader, I think of Gegard (Mousasi) moving up to fight him at 205. I think of Lyoto Machida fighting at 205. Both of those guys have said they will move up to 205 to fight the big fights. At heavyweight, I think of Kongo, I think of Roy Nelson, I think of a Matt Mitrione rematch and (Mirko) Cro Cop. There’s a lot of big fights for him outside of Cheick Kongo and his opponent this weekend.”
Bader is the first fighter to hold two Bellator titles simultaneously. Time will tell which title he decides to defend first. Coker has said that he’ll give Bader some leeway as the “champ champ.”