Scott Coker: Ryan Bader interested in rematching Vadim Nemkov before defending heavyweight title

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With Bellator’s light heavyweight division getting deeper, it appears Ryan Bader is looking to regain his 205-pound crown.

Former Bellator double champ Bader (27-6 MMA, 5-1 BMMA), who lost his light heavyweight title to Vadim Nemkov in August, was initially intending on bouncing back by defending his heavyweight belt.

But after some consideration, Bellator president Scott Coker says Bader has shifted gears and wants to avenge his loss to Nemkov, who handed him his first promotional defeat.

“We were definitely heading in that direction, then I got a call recently from his management saying that he would like to consider fighting Nemkov again,” Coker told MMA Junkie. “So to me, we haven’t flushed it out, but I think there is a desire for a rematch for that fight. If it happens, I’m not sure, but we’re definitely going to have a conversation with him about it because we were all about him getting into the heavyweight division and defending his belt, but that could change in the next couple of weeks.”

If Bader does end up rematching Nemkov, it will have been well over a year since he’s defended his heavyweight title. Bader retained his belt against Cheick Kongo in September 2019, when an accidental eye poke rendered Kongo unable to continue, resulting in a no contest.

So for the sake of the heavyweight division, Coker thinks Bader might end up having to vacate his title if he holds up the division for too long.

“I think he might have to make a decision at that point, but we’ll talk it through because he’s our champ, but we also want to let the belt continue on,” Coker said. “If you really want to fight Nemkov, we have to have a conversation at some point.”

He continued, “I think his management told us he’s basically very excited about these new signings and he’d love to fight these guys. Fight Nemkov, get his belt back. He’d also like to fight the other guys we just signed, whether it’s Yoel (Romero) or ‘Rumble’ (Johnson), but he’s ready to go. Ryan Bader’s afraid of nobody, believe me. This guy is a killer, too.”


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