The pieces appear to be falling into place for Bellator champ-champ Ryan Bader’s next title defense.
After Bellator President Scott Coker teased Bader’s next fight would be in the light heavyweight division, where he’s held the belt since June 2017, Bader called out Jiri Prochazka following the Rizin light-heavy champ’s knockout win over his longtime teammate C.B. Dollaway.
Bader had lobbied to fight Prochazka at Bellator Japan, which took place two days prior to Rizin 20 on New Year’s Eve at Saitama Super Arena. But he said he was unable to come to terms on a deal, and Prochazka was instead booked opposite Dolloway at Rizin 20.
We tried hard but looks like fighting for the Rizin belt isn’t going to happen next. Just couldn’t come to terms where it made sense. I’m looking to return to the @bellatormma cage sometime in February. LHW pic.twitter.com/RzteeA69CS— Ryan Bader (@ryanbader) November 13, 2019
There, Prochazka flattened Dolloway with a punch in less than two minutes, marking his seventh first-round finish in his past eight outings.
Bader is three months removed from the first defense of his heavyweight title. The champ-champ took on Chieck Kongo and retained the belt after an accidental eyepoke rendered Kongo unable to continue.
Bader hoped to defend both of his belts in 2020, but Coker indicated he’d move down in weight first. And with revenge on his mind, that might just happen in Bellator.