Ryan Bader’s first defense as Bellator heavyweight champion ended in confusion, chaos, and a near brawl at Bellator 226.
Bader, who won the title earlier this year in the finals of the Heavyweight Grand Prix, had his title fight against Cheick Kongo called off at 3:50 of the first round, when Bader accidentally gouged the eye of the challenger.
When asked by reporters if Kongo will be granted an immediate or guaranteed rematch for the title, Bellator President Scott Coker said: “that’s something I’ll talk to my guys about.”
“It was uneventful,” Coker said about the short title fight. “These things happen sometimes with the open-finger gloves. If we’d run it back, it depends on Ryan and his next step and if he’s staying at heavyweight. Yeah, we have to do something for the light heavyweight division. There’s some unfinished business. I’m sure he’d like to fight (Lyoto) Machida again, Gegard (Mousasi), the Rizin champ (Jiri Prochazka). He expressed interest in fighting for the Rizin title. Maybe we can go work out a deal for him to go to Japan and represent Bellator.”
“I was dominating every second of the fight,” Bader said following the card from San Jose’s SAP Center. “If he wants to do it again, I’ll definitely be doing it again.”
“I was two minutes from finishing him and he took the easy way out,” Bader continued. “I poked him in the nose, and he goes like this (Bader basically acting like Kongo made up the eye poke) to get out of the fight.”
“There’s a lot of interesting fights, that’s what kind of sucks,” Bader said. “I felt like I was a couple of minutes from defending the title and then moving on. Instead, I get a no decision. I dropped him with a jab and dropped him with two left hooks.
“There’s talk about going down to light heavyweight, there’s a lot of fighters coming up. I’m happy wherever. I feel I owe it to the light heavyweight division to defend the title. I’m having fun as a heavyweight. I’ve done everything Bellator has asked of me and they’ll tell me where to go.
“It sucks,” Bader maintained to reporters. “It feels like he took that win away from me. If there was an eye poke, it wasn’t intentional.”
“You take your five minutes and we can go from there,” Bader said of Kongo halting the fight before allowing the mandated five-minute rest period to elapse.
Following the fight, Quinton Jackson tried to jump into the cage and go at with Bader. Jackson, who is close friends with Kongo and was his training partner for this fight, with the former UFC light heavyweight champion claiming Bader poked Kongo’s eyes on purpose.
“I was walking out and there’s this big fat guy (Jackson) there when the gate opened up,” Bader said.
“He’s saying, ‘You did that s**t on purpose.’ He’s trying to fight me. I didn’t even know what was going on. He just came at me. F**k you. It is what it is. Then I walked back and said, ‘Let’s go.’ He got held back by my dad.”
Report: MMA Fighting