Bellator dual-division champion Ryan Bader will make the first defense of his light heavyweight title in nearly three years when he squares off with Vadim Nemkov. The bout will headline Bellator 244 on Aug. 21 at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn.
Having last defended his light heavyweight title against Linton Vassell on Nov. 3, 2017, Bader has spent the past two and a half years at heavyweight. He fought his way through the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix, defeating Fedor Emelianenko to win the heavyweight strap.
Bader's lone defense of the heavyweight belt was a no-contest in which he landed an accidental eye poke on Cheick Kongo, which rendered his opponent unable to continue.
In the third event of Bellator's emergence from the pandemic shutdown, Bader will put his 205-pound title on the line. Nemkov is 4-0 under the Bellator banner, having defeated the likes of Rafael Carvalho, Phil Davis, Liam McGeary, and Philipe Lins.
"There was a lack of options where I thought I was going to fight at heavyweight again, but they can get (Nemkov) into the country (from Russia), and that's the fight," Bader told ESPN's Brett Okamoto. "He definitely deserves a title shot at light heavyweight. It's one of those fights I've been looking at for a long time. It's an intriguing fight and I'm ready to go down and defend."
"For me, right now, I'd like to defend the belt at 205 and fight again at 205, while my body is primed for that weight. It's been some years since I've been down there, due to no fault on my side they just asked me to come do this heavyweight tournament and defend the heavyweight title right after the Grand Prix," Bader continued.
"I'd like to get a couple fights at 205. Go out there and beat Nemkov, then turn around and give Machida a title shot, get that loss back. I'd also like to fight in Japan, fight for the Rizin FF belt, finish the year with three belts."
(Video courtesy of ESPN MMA)
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