Bellator two-division champion Ryan Bader will never be mistaken for a braggart touting his resume but he’s also not going to back down from calling himself the best in the world.
Just recently, Bellator president Scott Coker proclaimed that Bader was the best heavyweight in mixed martial arts following Stipe Miocic’s fourth-round comeback victory to defeat Daniel Cormier at UFC 241.
Bader, who competed in the UFC as a light heavyweight, has gone undefeated since moving up a division while tearing through the competition in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix. With wins over “King Mo” Lawal, Matt Mitrione and most notably former PRIDE champion Fedor Emelianenko, Coker believes his heavyweight champion has separated himself from the rest of the pack.
And Bader agrees with him.
“For me, I believe that [I am the best]. If you don’t believe that, then you shouldn’t be in this sport. I do believe I’m the best in the world,” Bader said when speaking to MMA Fighting. “I believe coming up to heavyweight, I can shine.
“That’s where I feel the best in terms of being agile, speed, cardio, all that kind of stuff plus I have the power. It was nice to get that recognition, too, so now I just have to go out there and continue to prove it.”
Unfortunately for Bader as much as he’d love the opportunity to settle any debate by facing the UFC heavyweight champion, he knows it’s probably never going to happen.
According to the former NCAA All-American wrestler, his manager did reach out about potentially setting up some sort of cross promotion fight when Daniel Cormier was holding the UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight titles.
“You know where I stand on the Cormier fight, I wanted that fight forever,” Bader said. “We tried to get Cormier [in] cross promotion, champ-champ versus champ-champ fight, we reached out to see if there was any interest in doing a little cross promotion. It’s probably never going to happen but you never know. It’s happened before in boxing, I don’t see the UFC doing it with Bellator but you never know.”
Bader says the conversation never got very far but he at least made an attempt to challenge a two-division UFC champion.
“My manager has a relationship with both [organizations] and he threw the idea out there. I don’t think it went too far but it’s one of those things where eventually something like that is going to happen,” Bader said. “You never know. It could happen with us.”
While the Cormier matchup never happened, Bader does have past experience with Miocic after they previously trained together and he’s confident in how he would do against the reigning UFC heavyweight champion if they ever actually clashed.
“I know Stipe, I trained with him a little bit. He’s a good guy but I feel I match up with him well. I feel I match up with all of those guys well,” Bader said.
“It’s not like these guys who just fought for the UFC heavyweight championship were huge guys cutting down from 290 [pounds] to 265 and they’re cardio machines or what not. They’re my weight. I feel great about any of those matchups.”
As unlikely as it seems that the UFC would ever cross promote with any other organization, Bader isn’t losing sleep on whether or not people truly believe he’s the best heavyweight in the sport but he would love the chance to prove it.
“What I can do is keep doing what I’ve been doing. Winning fights and staying the champ,” Bader said. “And I’m happy just doing that in Bellator but the competitor in me [knows] with the public always saying ‘these are the best guys over here’ and that’s not always the case.”