After stopping Fedor again at Bellator 290, what’s next for Ryan Bader?

Ryan Bader

This past Saturday in the main event of Bellator 290, the heavyweight title was on the line. Ryan Bader (31-7) was looking to defend his title against Fedor Emelianenko (41-7) and in the process, he was hoping to spoil the retirement night for The Last Emperor.

These two first fought a few years ago and Bader knocked Fedor out in just over 30 seconds. Fedor stringed together a couple of knockout wins to earn this shot at heavyweight gold. Bader hasn’t lost at heavyweight, but two knockout losses at light heavyweight added intrigue to this matchup.

Early in the first round, Fedor whiffed on a big right hand which Bader countered. Bader’s shot landed right on the side of Fedor’s head and The Last Emperor was sent to the canvas. Eventually, Bader got into a dominant position and was able to finish Fedor to retain his Bellator heavyweight title.

What’s next after Bellator 290?

Things are a little muddy after Bellator 290. On the prelims, we saw another heavyweight matchup that looked primed to produce a new number one contender. Former PFL champion Ali Isaev made his Bellator debut against the undefeated Steve Mowry.

Mowry entered the bout ranked fifth in the division and with Isaev’s history, it looked like the winner would be next for the heavyweight crown. Isaev won the first round, but a dominant second round from Mowry produced 10-8s across the board. Isaev won the third round resulting in a draw.

Now, there’s no true number one contender for Ryan Bader. Despite the fight ending in a draw, I could see Bellator still picking one of these two to take on Bader. In looking at the other top five ranked contenders, I just don’t see major appeal in anyone else right now.

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