Ryan Bader’s Bellator MMA debut won’t be against King Mo, but instead an immediate title shot against Phil Davis.
Former UFC light heavyweight contender Ryan Bader’s Bellator MMA debut was supposed to be against Muhammed Lawal. That fight will no longer be happening, as King Mo was forced to withdraw due to injury, so Bader will instead be facing reigning champion Phil Davis on the Spike-televised portion of Bellator’s first show at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Davis announced the news on The MMA Hour on Monday.
Bader (22-5) signed with Bellator MMA in free agency, following a 20-fight UFC career. While close on multiple occasions, he never received a title shot, but now the TUF 8 winner gets an unexpectedly early one in his first Bellator fight. Bader comes into his rematch with Davis on a two-fight winning streak, having recorded stoppages over both Ilir Latifi and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
Davis (17-3, 1 NC) won the Bellator one-night, four-man tournament back in September 2015, submitting former champ Emanuel Newton before knocking out Francis Carmont (who was replacing the injured King Mo) in the final. After beating King Mo by unanimous decision, Davis captured Bellator gold with a dominant display vs. Liam McGeary last November. The last time “Mr. Wonderful” experienced defeat was by split decision to none other than Ryan Bader in January 2015. After the Bader fight, Davis inked a deal with Bellator as a free agent, having previously fought 13 times under the UFC banner.
Bellator 180 will be broadcast live on Spike and serve as a lead-in for Bellator: NYC, which airs exclusively on pay-per-view on Saturday, June 24th. Wanderlei Silva vs. Chael Sonnen will serve as the main event, with Fedor Emelianenko vs. Matt Mitrione as the co-headliner. The two championship fights on the PPV feature Michael Chandler defending his lightweight title against Brent Primus, while Douglas Lima will put his welterweight belt on the line against Lorenz Larkin.