Eight fighters entered the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix. After doubleheader events last weekend, the field is down to two: Fedor Emelianenko and Ryan Bader. Emelianenko will try to add to his already legendary legacy, while Bader could make Bellator MMA history by becoming the first fighter to hold two divisional titles in the organization.
Bader advanced to the finals with wins over Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal and Matt Mitrione. Emelianenko secured his spot in the championship bout by defeating Frank Mir and Chael Sonnen. Sonnen, who also plays roles as a commentator and fight analyst, looked ahead to the match-up between the Russian and the light heavyweight champion and likes how Bader stacks up.
“I think that Bader is pretty underrated. I think that should be blasphemy to call a sitting world champion who is now a No. 1 contender for yet another world championship underrated, but I don’t think that people fully give him his due,” said Sonnen during an appearance on The MMA Hour.
“I think he’s got really good hands on top of the conditioning and wrestling. He’s also the right size. Right around that 230 range, that’s a good size for a heavyweight.”
Bader is riding an impressive six-fight winning streak with 11 wins in his last 12 outings. Emelianenko has faced every style of fighter out there, but Sonnen believes Bader has several ways to win the fight.
“If Bader gets hit, he’s going to be in big trouble. I don’t know what his chin and jaw are like. He usually doesn’t have to test it. I think he’s got a lot of ways to win that fight. Particularly, the longer it goes the more he can keep his hands on him and the more pressure. I think Bader is in a really good spot, but I can’t deny the power of Fedor either,” he said.
“I kind of like Bader’s spot.”
Bellator: Fedor vs. Bader takes place on tSaturday, January 26 at the “Fabulous” Forum in Inglewood, Calif., with the heavyweight championship headlining the fight card.