Ryan Bader can already call himself a champion, as currently holds the Bellator light heavyweight title.
But for the former Ultimate Fighter winner, that isn’t enough.
Bader begins his road in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix this Saturday night vs. Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal in the main event of Bellator 199 in the final quarterfinal round contest. The bout airs live on Paramount Network from the SAP Center in San Jose.
For Bader (24-5), this is the chance to make history. He is currently on a four-fight win streak that includes victories over Phil Davis an Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
“Two belts in two divisions would kinda just solidify my life’s hard work,” Bader said. “I kinda pride myself on being the hardest worker in the room and have been for the past 10-plus years I’ve been doing this sport.”
A former Arizona State University wrestling standout, Bader burst into the UFC by capturing the TUF title. He went on to earn wins over former UFC champions Rashad Evans, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Ovince Saint Preux and Keith Jardine.
“I was wrestling since I was seven years old,” Bader said. “And then continue that and to get better and to learn stand-up, jiu-jitsu, implement wrestling with that.
“I fought in Mexico, I fought in a bull fighting ring. I fought in a little barn in Globe, Arizona. Then to the stage of becoming the Bellator champion, and retaining my belt. Now, I’m going up to heavyweight and going into the grand prix. People don’t see that foundation that was built.”
Now, “Darth” believes it is the perfect time to achieve greatness.
“To put my head down for this next year and come out with two belts, that would just vindicate everything,” he said. “All the sacrifices that not only I’ve made, but my family, friends, coaches and teammates around me made. That’s gonna be a highlight in my career.”