Tomorrow night at Bellator 256, the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix officially begins. In the first matchup and in tomorrow’s headliner we will see former light heavyweight and current heavyweight champion, Ryan Bader (27-6), take on Lyoto Machida (26-10).
This fight is actually a rematch from 2012. Back in 2012, both men were still in the UFC and Lyoto Machida was able to knock out Ryan Bader in the second round.
Lyoto Machida is going to be looking to snap a two-fight losing streak tomorrow night at Bellator 256. The former UFC light heavyweight champion has lost back-to-back split decisions to Phil Davis and Gegard Mousasi.
Overall, The Dragon is 2-2 in his four fights since moving from the UFC to Bellator. On the other side of the cage tomorrow night is the Bellator heavyweight champion Ryan Bader.
Bader joined Bellator back in 2017 and that is where his career took off. In his debut he defeated Phil Davis and then Linton Vassell to become the light heavyweight champion. After that, he went on a run at heavyweight to capture the title and his run included a knockout of Fedor Emelianenko.
The last time we saw Bader was at Bellator 244 in August. Bader made his return to the light heavyweight division for the first time since 2017 to defend his title. The former champion was knocked out in the second round by Vadim Nemkov.
Bellator 256 Prediction
I have to say that I’m incredibly intrigued by this matchup to open the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. Ryan Bader is the massive betting favorite and he should be considering his status and the fact that Machida is almost 43 years old.
Machida has also lost two in a row, but both fights were incredibly close. For Lyoto Machida, he has to keep this fight standing. He needs the main event tomorrow to become a point style striking matchup. If he can do that over three rounds, he can easily win a decision.
Bader cannot stand a lot with Machida. He’s going to be at a big speed disadvantage and we saw how rough that was for him against Vadim Nemkov. Bader needs to be aggressive and he needs to look for takedowns early in this matchup.
I can see both men winning at Bellator 256. However, I’m going to lean slightly towards Bader. I believe he’s going to be able to get this fight down just enough to earn himself a decision. However, I do see this fight going the distance.
Prediction: Ryan Bader by Unanimous Decision