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Champ Ryan Bader reveals planned weight for Bellator heavyweight tourney


Ryan Bader will compete up a weight class for the first time in his career when he participates in the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix. He said he’s doing everything he can to be properly prepared for it.

Bader (24-5 MMA, 2-0 BMMA), the reigning Bellator light heavyweight champion, has never fought outside his natural weight class before. The opportunity to join the eight-man, single elimination tournament was too hard to resist, though, because it gives “Darth” a chance to become the organization’s first simultaneous two-division champ.

With his opening round bout scheduled against Muhammed Lawal (21-6 MMA, 10-4 BMMA) at May’s Bellator 199 event, Bader said he’s already getting his body ready for the adjustment and even has a targeted weight in mind for when he steps in the cage.

“I’m putting on a little muscle because I don’t have to worry about making weight, obviously,” Bader told MMAjunkie. “I’m a solid three to five pounds heavier and I’ll carry that through camp; that’s the difference. When I’m making 205 I have to go heavy on strength and conditioning and get down to like the 220 mark to make weight. We’ll keep pushing hard, keep that weight on and plan to be 230, 233 when I get in there.”

Bellator 199 will take place May 12 at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. Bader vs. Lawal headlines the Paramount-televised main card following prelims streamed on MMAjunkie.

For Bader, it’s important not to bulk up too much for his matchup with Lawal. “King Mo” has plenty of heavyweight experience, but Bader expects to have some physical advantages he wants to maximize. He doesn’t want to go overboard, though, because a second-round fight against Matt Mitrione (13-5 MMA, 4-0 BMMA), who is the arguably the biggest competitor remaining the tournament, is on deck.

“He’s probably the smallest guy I’ve ever fought, let alone in a heavyweight tournament,” Bader said. “He’s the smallest guy I’ve ever fought, ever. Weight’s not a big deal there, but moving on to the next round with Mitrione, he’s a big dude. But at the same time you want to have your cardio up. You want to be quick and agile. So it’s a fine line there.”

Bader said the additional freedom when it comes to his weight is a big deal. However, he also said he’s a benefactor of all tournament fights outside the final being scheduled for three rounds. Between his UFC career and his Bellator run, Bader has been scheduled for five rounds in four of his past five bouts, and reducing it to three is significant, he said.

With less time to work, Bader said he intends on “really pushing” himself in every fight. He’s confident he can work his way through the tournament and reach the finals – hopefully for his “fairytale” matchup with Fedor Emelianenko – and claim another Bellator belt. What comes after that remains to be seen, but Bader has every bit of confidence he can do something unprecedented starting at Bellator 199.

“I like to be active, so I would definitely like to defend both those belts, the heavyweight championship and the light heavyweight championship,” Bader said. “Then we’ll decide from there. I don’t think it can realistically play out, defending both in both divisions, but I definitely want to try to keep both of them and defend both of them. Then I’m definitely a light heavyweight, so I’ll stay there. But who knows how it’s going to look at the end of this thing after everything transpires.”

For more on Bellator 199, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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