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With Grand Prix behind him, Ryan Bader shifts focus to tough heavyweight title unification fight

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Bellator MMA

Another weekend of fisticuffs has come and gone with both Bellator 268 and UFC Vegas 40 going down this past weekend (Sat., Oct. 16, 2021), providing hardcore fight fans with a double dose of combat sports action.

Plenty of fighters were left licking their wounds, including Aspen Ladd, who was dominated by Norma Dumont in the headlining act of the UFC card. So, too, was Julius Anglickas, who — despite a valiant effort — was ultimately submitted by Light Heavyweight champion, Vadim Nemkov (see it again here).

But, which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now a few days removed from both shows?

Ryan Bader.

Coming into his co-headlining bout against fellow UFC export Corey Anderson, Bader had a lot riding on the line. For starters, a win over Anderson would secure “Darth” a spot in the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix finale and a rematch against Nemkov, the man who knocked him out and took his belt last year.

Furthermore, Bader was out to silence Anderson after he took exception to the fact that “Overtime” broke what Bader called an unwritten rule in the sport, going public with the success he had over him during “practice.

Unfortunately for Bader, the fight was over just as quickly as it began after Anderson clipped him with a hard shot behind his ear, sending him crashing to the canvas and into survival mode. It didn’t take long for Anderson to jump in and put an end to the fight with his ever-dangerous ground and pound, ending the bout in just 51 seconds.

“The game we play,” Bader wrote on social media. “Not the result we wanted but felt the love in AZ! Thank you guys for always having my back.”

It’s not how “Darth” wanted to end his run in the tournament, but he has no time to sit and ponder what went wrong because he has to get right back to work. That’s because he has to shift his focus to his looming Heavyweight title unification bout.

And it won’t be an easy one because he will be facing current interim titleholder Valentin Moldavsky. The Russian big man has been on a tear since making his Bellator debut in 2017, winning six straight fights and capturing the interim strap by defeating Timothy Johnson at Bellator 261.

Interestingly enough, Moldavsky trains alongside Nemkov — who is also undefeated at 7-0 inside the Bellator cage — so he will have plenty of time pick his teammate’s brain on how to get the job done against the former 205-pound champion.


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