Ryan Bader admits he wants to fight Fedor Emelianenko over Chael Sonnen in the heavyweight final.
The light heavyweight champion booked his spot in the final showdown of the Bellator grand prix with a dominant performance over Matt Mitrione.
Bader took Mitrione down and kept him there for almost the entire fight, grinding out a wide points victory over the seasoned heavyweight.
Sonnen and 265lbs legend Emelianenko will go toe-to-toe tonight in the other semi-final, and Bader revealed his ideal opponent.
‘If I’m picking for the whole mystique and nostalgia of it, I’m picking Fedor,’ Bader said.
‘To win the heavyweight grand prix, the title, to be a two-division champion, and doing it being Fedor? It doesn’t get any bigger than that. That being said, they’re so different.
‘Chael, I know what I’m going to get with Chael. With Fedor, he has that mystique. You never know what he’s going to do in there.
‘He throws bombs. He’s great on the ground. If I had my choice, though, it would be Fedor.’
Like Bader, Sonnen made his heavyweight debut for Bellator’s tournament, and will need to use every ounce of his wrestling prowess to subdue Emelianenko.
Bellator 207 Main Card Results
Ryan Bader def. Matt Mitrione – UD
Sergei Kharitonov def. Roy Nelson – KO (knee, R1)
Lorenz Larkin def. Ion Pascu – UD
Corey Browning def. Baby Slice – TKO (punches, R2)
Mandel Nallo def. Carrington Banks – KO (knee, R2)
Boos rang out inside the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut on Friday night as Bader stifled Mitrione on the canvas.
But Bader dismissed criticism about his tactics, insisting he was never stupid enough to go toe-to-toe with Mitrione.
‘That was a dominant performance against the No. 1 heavyweight in Bellator. Going in there, it wasn’t a rock ’em, sock ’em fight.
‘It was a ground mauler. I don’t really take too much to the boos,’ he said.
‘It’s a way to go in there, go into the finals without getting hit. A guy like Matt Mitrione, I’m not going to stand and trade with him.
‘He’s a big heavyweight, that’s what he’s good at. I used my gameplan, what I’m good at, shut him completely down.’