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Bader: People underestimate Sonnen, but he can dominate Fedor

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Ryan Bader discusses the Bellator heavyweight semi-final match up on the other side of his bracket.

Ryan Bader is moving up in weight for the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix. While he still has to go through both King Mo and Matt Mitrione to reach the finals, the UFC vet and current Bellator light heavyweight champ is keeping an eye on the other side of the bracket.

The semi-final round on that other bracket has just been set, as Fedor Emelianenko knocked out Frank Mir this past weekend. His next opponent will be Chael Sonnen, and the two awkwardly faced off for the first time after the bout.

“Yeah, it was pretty funny. Fedor just kinda shut him down,” Bader told Submission Radio about the face off. “Chael did one of his corny poems or whatever he does there and Fedor really wasn’t having it. So, Chael’s gonna do that and I think it’s good if he can get people watching. And that’s an intriguing match-up.”

Related: Tweet of the Day: The greatest heavyweight ever… and Fedor

The UFC veteran broke down the upcoming contest, and said that it will be much closer than what most people think. He may be a former middleweight going up against the consensus greatest heavyweight of all time, but Bader thinks everyone is underestimating Sonnen here.

“Chael can definitely go out there and beat him. It’s one of those fights that’s a toss-up,” he said. “Fedor can go out there and look good and knock him out, or Chael can take him down and dominate him in that wrestling department.

“I think it’s a toss-up, ‘cause people always underestimate Chael. He’ll talk a lot and do all that, but he does have the tools to win,” Bader explained. “Look back to his fights with guys like Shogun, where he does have a good guillotine also and he can take people down. He has decent striking where he can keep you at distance like he did with Rampage, and then pick his shots where he can take you down.

“He doesn’t necessarily have to take you down and pass and try to submit you, he’s gonna take you down, he’s gonna just be on top of you, he’s got that good control. He doesn’t have to do much damage,” he said. “You know, it’s a three-round fight also. You gotta take that into account. So, he can take him down and hold him down for three rounds and win the fight and move onto the finals.”

That being said, Bader is rooting for Fedor to advance.

“For me, selfishly I would want to fight Fedor in the finals, and so to see him go out there and win (against Mir), I like seeing that,” he said. “For me, the perfect ending to the grand prix would be going out there, beating Fedor, not only for the heavyweight belt, but doing it in a grand prix style tournament. So, I was glad to see him win and I gotta do my part.”

As Bader mentioned, for all that to come together, he has to defeat Muhammed Lawal on May 12, then do the same against the much larger heavyweight in Mitrione on the following round.


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