Ryan Bader hoping to face Francis Ngannou next to prove legitimacy as champion: “To to go out there and beat him, and there’s no question I’m legit”

By Josh Evanoff - February 7, 2023

Bellator heavyweight champion Ryan Bader is hoping that he can share the cage with Francis Ngannou.

‘Darth’ returned over the weekend in the main event of Bellator 290. In the headliner, Bader faced Fedor Emelianenko in a rematch of their 2019 meeting. In the finals of the Bellator heavyweight Grand Prix four years prior, ‘The Last Emperor’ lost by first-round stoppage.

This past Saturday, lightning struck twice. The heavyweight champion took the Russian down early in the first round and wound up getting the win by TKO. In the process, Bader became the first ever man to defeat Emelianenko twice, who retired after the bout.

The victory was also Ryan Bader’s fourth heavyweight title defense, but he still feels he has more to prove. During the Bellator 290 post-fight press conference, the champion discussed the possibility of Francis Ngannou signing to the promotion.

‘The Predator’ famously exited the UFC last month after failing to come to terms with a new deal. While Bader doubts that Ngannou will land in Bellator, he would welcome the challenge.

Ryan Bader, Bellator 226

Image via @BellatorMMA on Instagram

“When he signs the contract or whatever, then we could talk about it,” Bader said at the post-fight press conference. “I mean, Tyson Fury’s calling him out and all that. I assume he’s gonna go box. You know, once he signs with Bellator, we could kinda cross that bridge. But I’m looking to fight before that, so if it happens down the road, cool.” (h/t MMA News)

He continued, “He’s not signed, first off. I don’t think he’s gonna come here, but if he does, awesome. I think he’s one of the best heavyweights in the world and to get to go out there and beat him, and there’s no question like I’m legit.”

While Ryan Bader would welcome the challenge of facing Francis Ngannou, ‘The Predator’ currently has many suitors. Many of them come from the boxing world, as both Misfits Boxing and Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing have already reached out to the former champion.

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Bellator Francis Ngannou Ryan Bader