When Lyoto Machida met Ryan Bader for the first time in 2012, the two men were both in UFC, and Machida finished the fight with a second-round knockout. Now, a much more seasoned Bader is looking to avenge that loss when the two meet in a rematch at Bellator 256 on Friday night.
The fight represents a quarterfinal matchup in the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix Tournament, and will be the main event at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Bader looks to reclaim second title
Bader (27-6) still holds the Bellator heavyweight title, and held the light heavyweight championship until Vadim Nemkov stopped him at Bellator for that title last August. The Grand Prix tournament gives Bader – the first fighter in Bellator to hold two belts simultaneously – a chance to regain his status as a two-division champion.
Nearly 🔟 years since these two men last squared off.@ryanbader and @lyotomachidafw kick start the EPIC #BellatorLHWGP this Friday, April 9 LIVE on @SHOsports. #Bellator256 #BellatorOnShowtime pic.twitter.com/I0tBIvYXjW
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) April 8, 2021
Bader expected to focus on his heavyweight title moving forward, but plans changed when Bellator announced the Grand Prix. Still, Bader wants to keep his heavyweight belt while he deals with trying to reclaim his 205-pound title.
“I’m not giving it up,” Bader told MMA Junkie, speaking of the heavyweight championship. “Bellator came to me and asked me if I wanted to do this tournament. They said I could keep this belt. Maybe an interim belt going [forward]? But that’s up to Tim Johnson. He’s the No. 1 contender.”
While Bellator typically plays second fiddle to UFC in the MMA world, Bader says that light heavyweight is the one division where his promotion might have the upper hand.
“People like to talk about that stuff, but we’ll never know because there’s never going to be a cross-promotional fight,” Bader told ESPN. “But I’ll say this: Any one of us in this tournament can defeat the UFC champion [Jan Blachowicz] on a given night. “Me, Corey Anderson, Anthony Johnson, Phil Davis – when we left the UFC, each one of us was in the top three.”
Machida says Bellator 256 rematch ‘a new fight’
Meanwhile, the 42-year-old Machida (26-10) stands as a former UFC light heavyweight champion. At one point, Machida had built a 16-0 professional record behind a unique style featuring traditional karate techniques, a rarity in high-level MMA.
That was more than a decade ago, however. And while Machida began his Bellator career with two straight wins, he’s lost his last two bouts to Phil Davis and Gegard Mousasi, both by split decision.
|Bellator 256 Odds (via FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|Ryan Bader: -330||Lyoto Machida: +250|
|Liz Carmouche: -184||Vanessa Porto: +150|
|Jeremy Kennedy: -126||Adam Borics: +104|
|Cat Zingano: -650||Olivia Parker: +430|
|Dalton Rosta: -600||Tony Johnson: +410|
Now, Machida says that both he and Bader are very different fighters than in their first meeting in 2012.
“I don’t think about the last fight anymore,” Machida told MMA Junkie. “Even if you win or you lose, it doesn’t matter. If you win, you’re not going to take any step ahead of your opponent just because you have the win. If you lose, it’s the same thing because it’s a new fight, new fighter, eight years ago.”
Bader enters the fight as a substantial -330 favorite over Machida (+250), according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Also on Friday’s Bellator 256 card, Liz Carmouche (-184) takes on Vanessa Porto (+150) in women’s flyweight action, while featherweight Jeremy Kennedy (-126) battles Adam Borics (+104).