11 Oct - 
Ryan Bader expects pound-for-pound respect if he wins Bellator heavyweight tournament

NEW YORK – Ryan Bader believes he should be considered as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world if he manages to win the Bellator heavyweight grand prix and claim a second Bellator title.

Bader (25-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA), the current Bellator light heavyweight champ, continues his pursuit of a second piece of hardware of Friday when he meets Matt Mitrione (13-5 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) in the first tournament semifinal at Bellator 207.

No one in the history of Bellator has held two belts simultaneously, but Bader can make history if he beats Mitrione and then the winner of Fedor Emelianenko (37-5 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) vs. Chael Sonnen (30-15-1 MMA, 2-1 BMMA), who fight Saturday in the second semifinal at Bellator 208.

Bader is already ranked No. 15 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA pound-for-pound rankings, but if he wins the tournament, he anticipated being listed much higher.

“Yeah (I should have a high pound-for-pound ranking), going out here and being a two-division champion and beating the guys I’ve beaten – I’m not fighting scrubs out here,” Bader told MMAjunkie at today’s Bellator 207 open workouts. “Doing this, being a two-division champion at a higher weight where one mistake could end your whole night. It’s definitely an accomplishment and I would have to be talked about in the pound-for-pound list.”

Bellator 207 takes place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Bader vs. Mitrione headlines the Paramount-televised main card card following prelims on MMAjunkie.

As a natural light heavyweight, Bader, 35, will enter the cage at Bellator 207 as the smaller man. He doesn’t see that as a negative, though, because it will bring “added benefits of being fast and quick and athletic.” He also thinks his style is a serious problem for Mitrione, 40.

All will ultimately be unveiled when the fighters get in the cage, but Bader is glistening with confidence after claiming he’s in the best place of his career – both physically and mentally.

“If you look at stylistically, what are my strengths? My strengths are his weaknesses,” Bader said. “That wrestling department, the ground game and the cardio. That’s what I do well. I break people. I’ve never lost a decision. I’m willing to go there, I’ve been there a million times to that deep dark place where you start to question yourself. Even mores right now. I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life. I do feel that’s a spot I can exploit.”

For more on Bellator 207, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.