Two world championships aren’t enough for Ryan Bader.
After winning both the Bellator heavyweight and light heavyweight titles, the former UFC contender has his sights set on a third belt as part of the ongoing relationship between the Viacom-owned promotion and Rizin Fighting Federation in Japan.
Assuming he can get past Cheick Kongo at Bellator 226 this Saturday, Bader then expects to move back to the light heavyweight division for his next couple of fights, including one that should add another belt to his resume.
“I was talking to Scott [Coker] a little bit and I believe the plan is to go back down [to 205 pounds],” Bader told MMA Fighting. “I’d love to go back down and go after the Rizin title at 205. Get my feet wet there with the guys in October and then turn around and fight in December.”
Jiri Prochazka is the reigning Rizin light heavyweight champion and he has previously called out Bader for a crossover super fight between the two promotions.
Rizin champion Kyoji Horiguchi already crossed over to win the Bellator bantamweight title so it seems anything is possible when it comes to Bader’s ambitions to add another belt to his collection.
First things first, Bader has to get through Kongo this weekend as the 44-year old Frenchman looks to win his first title in a major promotion with a career that stretches back to 2001.
When the fight was first offered, Bader admits he wasn’t all that intrigued by a matchup with Kongo but as the defending champion, he definitely wasn’t going to turn it down.
“To be honest, I wasn’t too excited,” Bader explained. “I just came off fighting Fedor [Emelianenko] and going through the heavyweight tournament. Before that I fought [Matt] Mitrione, who is still one of the top heavyweights. I had to go back and look at the record and yeah, he has won his last eight in a row.
“Cheick Kongo’s just not that guy who exudes that it’s going to be a crazy fight. He has won eight in a row. Compared to who I fought and he was talking s—t saying I didn’t deserve the belt. He wasn’t even invited to the tournament if that says anything about him or his fighting style.”
For Bader, the fact that his heavyweight title is up for grabs is ultimately the only real motivation he needs even if he wasn’t all that enthusiastic to find out Kongo was the opponent who would be standing across the cage from him.
“You get an opponent, it doesn’t really matter,” Bader said. “My motivation is competing, keeping the heavyweight belt, keeping the door open for other opportunities by being the double champ. For me, that’s the motivation. I don’t need any other motivation.”
He’s not sure if that will be the same result when he faces Kongo on Saturday but Bellator’s reigning “champ-champ” is certain he will be leaving with the heavyweight title around his waist.
“For me, it’s every minute, every round of the fight and eventually it will come. I believe I can finish him on the feet or on the ground,” Bader said. “He has his attributes. He’s a good kickboxer. He’s long. He’s pretty good on top. On his back he doesn’t have much. It’s one of those fights where I feel like I can finish wherever [I want]. I’m not pushing.
“I’m willing to go five rounds if need be and keep that title and at the same time I’ll take a quick knockout or submission if it comes.”